Box Elder police investigate hundreds of Apple products stolen from Douglas School storage

Police say nine people may be facing charges

BOX ELDER, S.D. — Hundreds of Apple products owned by the Douglas School District have been recovered by Box Elder Police after the electronics were stolen from storage in June. Police estimate up to 600 items could be involved.

The investigation began roughly two weeks ago after a local pawn shop reported to Rapid City Police that over 30 iPads were brought into the shop. The iPads were linked to electronics that went missing from the old Vandenberg Elementary school, now owned by VRC Metal Systems. Since the building was transferred from district ownership, certain rooms have been kept as locked storage for the district’s surplus items.

“Early investigation has identified a number of people who have broken into that storage on at least three different occasions,” said Det. Duane Peyrot with the Box Elder Police Department.

Police say the main suspect may have worked as a sub-contractor at the building in June. Other individuals involved may have played a role in distribution. The goods have been making their way through pawn shops in Pennington, Meade, and Sanborn Counties. Other iPads have been recovered after being sold or handed out around Rapid City and Sturgis.

“There are innocent people that have been given an item or two that don’t know the genesis of the entire thing,” said Peyrot.

The list of missing goods are easily tracked with the district’s surplus list. The surplus form from the 2018-19 school year lists over 833 items stored at the old Vandenberg building, each matched with a description, model number, serial number and condition.

Superintendent of Douglas Schools Alan Kerr says that after auction, the stolen products would bring roughly $6,000 back to the district.

“It’s going to hardly set us back at all,” said Kerr. “It’s not good to lose anything because it’s taxpayer money but it won’t be a big impact to the district.”

The Douglas School District’s annual budget from 2018-2019 is just over $20 million dollars.

Once the items are recovered, processed through an investigation, and returned to the district, Kerr says the goods will just be surplussed the following year.

The area of the old Vandenberg building the surplussed goods are currently stored in does not have security cameras. Kerr says the bigger challenge is the storage problem the district is facing.

“We don’t have any more storage space,” said Kerr. “It’d be nice to have cameras in all other buildings that we own. We have cameras everywhere so it’d be impossible to get away with anything so we just need to work with VRC to make sure they have some cameras up soon.”

As far as holding VRC liable, Kerr says they have an agreement that doesn’t involve further action.

Box Elder Police say no one has been charged but up to nine people may be prosecuted.

Categories: Crime, Local News