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Burglars break into Starksboro, Lincoln schools

ADDISON COUNTY — State police are investigating burglaries at the elementary schools in Starksboro and Lincoln that occurred over the long Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend in which thousands of dollars of electronics were stolen.
Police said someone broke into Lincoln Community School and Robinson Elementary in Starksboro sometime between Jan. 17 and 20.
Senior Trooper Cari Crick of the Vermont State Police barracks in New Haven said troopers investigating the Lincoln and Starksboro cases are coordinating their efforts, but it is too early in the investigation to confirm a link between the thefts.
“The similarities between the cases are suggesting they are related,” she said.
Robinson Principal Patrick Harnett told the Independent Thursday that a number of electronics, such as laptops, handheld radios, tablets and a flat screen television, were stolen from the school. Someone also broke into the medicine cabinet in the nurse’s office and took prescription medication.
Hartnett said that sometime over the long weekend, an unknown number of people broke into the building through an exterior door and searched many offices and classrooms.
In some cases, they attempted to break open locked filing cabinets, but were unsuccessful. The cafeteria cash register was pried open, but there was no cash inside to steal.
At one point, the burglar or burglars locked themselves inside the cafeteria through a door that locks on one side. They kicked down that door to escape, causing considerable damage.
Hartnett said the school’s staff was still tallying all the items missing, but estimated the loss, including damage to the building, to be $4,000 to $5,000.
Hartnett said school continued as usual on Tuesday, though some teachers had to adjust their lesson plans due to the lost electronics. He added that the school redistributed the laptops it had left to teachers that needed them.
The principal said the faculty and staff at the small school were shaken by the burglary.
“It’s not quite that same level of violation as when that happens to your home, but it’s the next level,” Harnett said. “It’s a personal violation, and there’s anger that the lost equipment does impact their work.”
Harnett said he was particularly concerned because he and teachers sometimes work late at night and on weekends, and are often alone in the building.
“That, to me, is the most disconcerting thing,” he said.
Harnett said teachers had not yet discussed the incident with students, but he planned to send a letter home to parents Thursday afternoon.
Reached for comment, Lincoln Community School Principal Tory Riley declined to provide more details about the burglary, citing the ongoing investigation.
Trooper Crick declined to detail what items were stolen from the Lincoln school, as officials are still taking inventory of the burglary.
Troopers ask anyone with information on either break-in to call the New Haven barracks at 802-388-4919.

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