Twenty-one laptops that were stolen from Wilmington City Schools were found in a cemetery in Highland County, apparently part of a cache of 60 total computers that were taken from the school district.
A Wilmington man — charged by Wilmington police last week with manufacturing methamphetamine in his apartment — has been arrested and charged with being one of two suspects who stole 60 new Chromebook laptop computers valued at $15,000 from Wilmington City Schools.
“We managed to get some good still photos of the two suspects and video, captured behind the school,” said WPD Det. Josh Riley, who is in charge of the case reported to police Sunday, Aug. 21. The suspects broke into the school through a window.
Police eventually identified one suspect as Dusty Ray Oates, 30, of West Locust Street, who is now incarcerated in the Clinton County Jail.
Police are working to identify the second suspect. “We have some names we’re doing background on,” Riley said.
However, there is some good news for Wilmington schools — after arresting Oates Aug. 29, Wilmington police say Oates turned over 33 laptops to them.
And on Tuesday, another 21 were recovered by the Highland County Sheriff’s Office.
“A passerby was walking in Henderson Cemetery around 5 p.m. Sept. 6 and found the computers stacked up by a path,” said Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera. The cemetery is near Allensburg on Route 50.
The passerby contacted the Highland County Sheriff’s Office, and once the HCSO discovered the computers were from Wilmington High School, they contacted the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office.
The recovered laptops are currently being held by police as evidence, Riley said. Once they are released by a judge, they will be returned to Wilmington High School.
Through the Wilmington High School 1:1 (“one device: one student”) Chromebook Initiative, beginning this school year every individual student at the high school is provided a personal Chromebook for his or her educational needs while attending WHS for a $50 technology fee.
Reach Tom Barr at 937-382-2574 or on Twitter @ThomasBarr.