59 iPads Stolen from Pacific Elementary School

Thieves access two classrooms and used a bolt cutter to remove the iPads from locked metal cabinets, police say.

The school district's iPad program took a hit last Saturday when thieves broke into a classroom at Pacific Elementary School and took 59 of the electronic devices used to instruct fifth graders.

The theft was discovered Sunday by a school staff member said Manhattan Beach Unified School District Dr. Mike Matthews. Surveillance video shows two subjects carrying large bags Saturday around 4:20 a.m., said MBPD Officer Stephanie Martin, leading police to believe that's when the crime took place.

The darkness at that time and fog make it difficult for the suspects to be described, however, Martin said they believe the two suspects are male and that a third subject, a female, may be involved.

"It's incredibly sad and unfortunate for our students," said Matthews, adding that staff worked hard to prepare for Monday when students returned to campus.

"Our maintenance department did a great job and the teachers had to make a lot of changes to be ready for the day," he said.

iPads are used for instruction at MBUSD's middle school and all five elementary schools. "We're reevaluating our storage mechanisms," he said, "and continue to look at how we can make the iPads as secure as possible."

Replacements for the stolen iPads have been ordered, Matthews said, and MBUSD's insurance will be used to cover the theft. The iPads were donated to MBUSD after being purchased through the PTA.

The iPads used at Pacific and the other elementary schools are school property that remains on campus, he said.

A classroom window was smashed so the thieves could gain entrance, said Martin, and then an adjoining classroom was accessed through an interior door. The theft was accomplished by using "bolt cutters to get into secure areas," said Matthews. The iPads were stored in interior locked metal cabinets, said Martin.

"Even at Pacific, we had the iPads quite secured," said Matthews, "but one of the issues is they were in a classroom where people could break a window [to get inside]."

Pacific Principal Kim Linz emailed parents/guardians of the school's students Sunday night to tell them of the incident. In her email, she wrote that she would visit all fifth grade classrooms on Monday and that fifth grade teachers would debrief the students so they felt safe about school. Counselors were also made available. 

The fifth grade students who use iPads predominantly work using cloud-based apps, Matthews said, and the materials "can be gained again when they [students] log in."

After learning the devices had been stolen, the district remotely locked the iPads. Matthews said the biggest concern was not with any information that was on an iPad, but rather on how to prevent them from being stolen.

"We're very proud of our iPad program," he said, noting that iPads are the way of educating children in the 21st century.

The loss is estimated to be around $25,000.

Patricia Quagletti January 31, 2013 at 04:45 AM
How sad for those 5th graders and their teachers. Crime is everywhere, but this is pretty low to steal from children. I hope the robbers are really proud of themselves.
Kim Rohm January 31, 2013 at 08:48 PM
Hopefully MBUSD downloaded a tracking app onto all the ipads to aid recovery. If not, the district should do it immediately to all ipads in use throughout the system.
Ian Tynan February 01, 2013 at 01:48 AM
makes you wonder about WHO knew excatly where the iPads were.... also I wonder if any asked Apple if they would replace them? Would be great press for them.... How low will people go.... sad, sad, sad..... pretty pathetic and sad lives... I feel sorry that they have to steal... get a job and join us in the real world... Hope they get caught!!!!
Bill Anderson February 02, 2013 at 02:48 AM
Manhattan Beach seems to be changing right under our noses. Seems like the whole south bay is going down the tubes. I'm affraid that in a few years it's going to look more like west LA that the quiet beach town that most of us know and love. Think crime is up now? Just wait til they redevelop the Manhattan Village shopping Center. The area will explode with new activity, not all good.
Arbman March 16, 2013 at 12:18 AM
Time to install wireless motion sensors into the classrooms... There is just enormous amount of cheap technology to prevent all these easily...


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