The community of Manchester has been left stunned after its elementary school was broken into overnight, resulting in damage to the building and the theft of dozens of student Chromebooks.
Rachelle Byrd, the school’s principal, said she received a call at 5:30 a.m. July 27 from the director of facilities informing her of the break-in at Manchester Elementary. She walked in later that morning to find the damaged third-grade classroom, a glass window shattered, and the outside classroom door showing signs of what is believed to be the initial break-in attempt.
“They had tried to bust (the door window) out,” she said. “We assume that it was to try to get their hand in to open the door from the inside.”
Attempts to access the classroom went further after the burglar(s) tried to saw the hinges off the door. “I guess that was just too much work, and finally, they decided to break through the window,” Byrd said.
The burglar(s) proceeded to pry open the cart holding the Chromebooks, stealing them before accessing the next door classroom. More were stolen before the culprit(s) escaped. Byrd estimates around 41 Chromebooks were stolen.
Byrd said she can’t remember a time when it felt as if an incident of this degree felt so planned out, leaving her to wonder who would go through with such a crime and why.
“This is where little kids go to school, where staff spend a good part of their life, and it’s a great community school with wonderful people around,” she said. “So you just feel violated and disappointed because someone took it upon themselves to destroy some of that.”
School office manager Sarah McCoy added to the disappointed feeling, stating “It just keeps happening. We just want it to be a safe space, and it’s frustrating that we kind of keep getting these little setbacks.”
Other community members shared they were disheartened by the news. “It’s pretty sad,” Manchester resident Dwayne Pappas said. “It’s hard enough getting new Chromebooks for the kids, and all of a sudden they get stolen.”
The South Kitsap School District has not responded to a request for comment as of the morning of July 28.