Stolen computers found but ruined - Philadelphia News

August 11, 2008 4:52:38 PM PDT
Philadelphia Police are investigating who broke into the Alliance for Progress Charter School and swiped nearly 2 dozen computers. School starts in just a few weeks, and even though the computers were recovered, they may no longer work. Twenty computer monitors and nearly as many hard drives are drying out. Over the weekend, someone forced their way in through a back window and took the equipment out of the computer lab at The Alliance for Progress Charter School.

This morning, a maintenance worker discovered the computer lab in disarray and later, detectives found the computers stashed on the playground: monitors in a shed, hard drives hidden under a tarp, keyboards in the trash and all of it soaking wet from the rain.

"All of the materials were found outside so our biggest concern is if they'll work and so what our IT consultant is doing is waiting until they dry out a little bit before they're plugged in to see if they will operate," Marva Lafayette, the academic officer, said.

Detectives dusted for fingerprints in hopes of catching the computer-swiping suspects. Classes start September 2, but teachers were set to start new training on the 2-year-old computers next week.

Police put the value of the computers at more than $10,000, but the school's principal says you just can't put a dollar value on the education and enjoyment her students get by using these computers each week.

"The children love it. They're having fun and you know some of the children don't have computers at home so it's great to offer that to them here," the principal told Action News.

Last week, someone stole the school's surveillance cameras, perhaps in preparation for the weekend heist. Police think maybe the thieves were interrupted by the rain and hoped to return for the stolen goods. So while the rain got rid of the suspects, it might have damaged the computers beyond repair.

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