With Boston Public Schools facing a more than $100 million deficit and the superintendent calling for 15 percent budget reductions at all buildings, the last thing the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School needed was thieves ravaging its halls.
Sadly, it happened twice this month.
Computers and other electronic equipment were stolen from the school during the early morning hours of the past two Sundays, according to BPD Spokesperson Officer James Kenneally. Five computers went missing on Jan. 11 and several more on Jan. 18.
"We're unwilling to let anything like this stop us from our mission," said Principal Debra Socia. "We'll bounce right back, but it's frustrating."
Suspects were caught on a security camera during the second incident, though Kenneally said it would be difficult to establish their identity from the footage. In still frames posted on the BPDNews.com site, two men with large jackets and winter hats can be seen carrying boxes and moving a cart down the hall.
Doors and windows were also damaged during the breaks.
Kenneally said BPD was still investigating and did not know if the same suspects were involved both nights. BPD hopes the photos lead to tips about the incidents (visit bpdnews.com or call detectives at 617-343-4275).
Socia said she is limiting her comments about the incidents while they are under investigation. When contacted by the Reporter, the school was still taking inventory to determine what was stolen and its value. Some of the computers may have been in need of repair and not in use.
The thieves also lifted new disability software that translates speech into text, an act that Socia called "heartbreaking." She said the school has not had crime like this during its six years of existence.
Despite the setback, Socia is confident the theft will not interfere with learning.
"It won't affect us at all," she said. "We immediately got set up putting other computers in the hands of the children. We have a very good system in place and we made sure no child was impacted. We're just really sad about it."