Unknown suspects broke into the Wilson building three times while it has been closed. The break-ins each occurred between June 2 and June 7, when nobody was present in the school.
The Metropolitan Police Department has been investigating the break-ins and so far identified a few suspects, but has not shared much of its findings with the school. Director of Strategy and Logistics Brandon Hall suggested that while he does not know who entered the building, “it may have been individuals who were opportunistic and took advantage of the peaceful protest that went on within the last two weeks.”
The suspects broke one of the exterior doors which could have been how they entered the building. Hall mentioned how “vandalism and property destruction were one cause of unlawful entry,” as well as that “potentially a key got into the wrong hands,” which could have provided additional access.
The trespassers broke doors and furniture along with stealing numerous valuable items. Lists of the damages are still being compiled, but science teacher and robotics team sponsor Angela Benjamin estimates that thousands of dollars worth of property was taken from her lab alone. “They stole our air compressor… and they took a bunch of hand tools, they went into my back room and threw papers around, they went into all the cabinets,” Benjamin said. Benjamin also lost all her calculators and a few computers. But with the school following health precautions requiring appointments to enter the building, teachers like Benjamin haven’t been able to easily access their classrooms to clean up and assess what is missing.
Administrators are in contact with DCPS and the PTSO to cover the losses from the break-ins. “Once we have a complete list of everything that was stolen or damaged, we will try to find ways to replace or repair. The PTSO has offered to help defray the costs of replacement or repaired items,” Principal Kimberly Martin said.
The magnitude of these break-ins is greater than any from recent memory, but the school’s security has long been a concern. “People have been going into that building at night and everything ever since school ended… and then finally we got hit; the building is not secure,” Benjamin said.
However, a plan to replace the security system and exterior doors was put in place in October—long before the school’s closure and subsequent break-ins. This process has been ongoing for the past few months and is in its final stages. “Contractors have almost completed the installation of all-new exterior doors and all cores and keys have been replaced with the security system being updated now” Hall said. With new locks on all the exterior doors, Hall is confident that the building is now more secure and future break-ins are unlikely.