Two juvenile boys are facing felony charges after they broke into three buildings on the Cleveland Public Schools campus on Saturday, officials say.
According to police, an 11-year-old and 13-year-old stole iPads, petty cash and trashed one of the buildings with eggs. Video surveillance, which was installed as part of the multimillion dollar bond issue, helped authorities and school administrators identify the suspects.
By law, juvenile records are sealed and names are off the record, but officers did confirm they have had criminal dealings with both boys in the past.
Police Chief Clint Stout said the Early Childhood Center, primary school and middle school all were targeted by the kids. In the ECC cafeteria, police said there were eggs smashed and thrown all over the ceilings and walls. Miscellaneous items were taken from the building, and petty cash was taken from a teacher’s desk at the primary school, Stout said. iPads also were discovered missing. Petty cash — $26 — was taken from the middle school, officials said.
Stout said there was no sign of forced entry into the ECC, and likely the boys had access to a key they may have stolen from someone they know. They gained entry into the primary school by throwing a large rock through a window, superintendent Aaron Espolt said.
Superintendent Aaron Espolt said the outside set of doors at the middle school entryway were left unlocked after Little League basketball on Saturday, but it was just an oversight and usually would be OK since the interior set of doors lock automatically. However, there was a door that apparently did not latch correctly and hadn’t been identified as broken.
“And the boys took advantage of that faulty lock,” Espolt said. “They just yanked on it and it came open.”
The security company came out immediately and repaired the door once that was discovered to be a contributor in how the boys gained entry, he said.
“I don’t want the community to think our new security is lacking, because a faulty lock over time is something that can happen anywhere. But it is because of our new cameras that we were able to catch the kids who did this. We are fortunate enough to have the technology that we do, and that is what allowed us to catch the kids and they will be held accountable for their actions.”
Espolt said the incident isn’t something that is being taken lightly at all, but he doesn’t believe the actions are indicative of the attitude of the student body as a whole.
“We have tremendous young men and women in our school system, I’ve always said that and this doesn’t change that perception for me,” Espolt said. “Sometimes there are kids who make bad decisions and hopefully they will learn from them. The process we are going through now hopefully will put them on the right path eventually.”
According to Stout, the boys will face multiple counts of second-degree burglary, larceny and possession of stolen property. He said the initial report came in from one of the buildings and the boys were picked up by the Office of Juvenile Affairs. After processing, OJA released them to their parents. Later, it was learned the other two buildings had been broken into as well. Stout said it is possible, perhaps likely, that OJA will file a petition to take the boys back into custody because of the added allegations in regards to the two other buildings.