CLEVELAND (WJW) – Teachers and parents in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District are raising the alarm about a recent series of car break-ins in school parking lots.
Cleveland police were called to Daniel Morgan Elementary School on the city’s east side last Friday after employees discovered a dozen cars had been broken into in the school’s parking lot.
Teachers were disheartened to find their passenger windows smashed out and valuables and personal items taken from their cars.
They say it happened again a couple of days later.
One teacher who was victimized by the smash and grab thieves spoke with FOX 8 but asked that we not identify her out of fear of a reprisals from the school district.
“I’m scared and I’m sad because we’re here to serve the community. We need the community to help support us too,” she said.
The teacher added that the break-ins are creating a financial hardship.
“I’m already out close to $1,000 between having to pay my deductible, fighting with my insurance company, having to get the car, all the glass cleaned out of my car and it was soaked inside because it was raining. I don’t have this kind of money to be able to just come and do my job that I love,” she said.
It turns out the thieves are targeting schools in neighborhoods across the city.
Newly released surveillance video shows one group of suspects pull into Stephanie Tubbs Jones School in a white car with tinted windows.
The video shows them jumping out and systematically breaking into each car, truck and SUV in the parking lot.
They appear to be incredibly brazen and don’t seem to mind that cars are passing the school as they are breaking in.
At one point in the video, a work truck pulls into the parking lot and passes within feet of the thieves, but they seem unfazed and continue to look through the cars for valuables.
Erin Webb is a working mother and parent ambassador to the teaching staff at Daniel Morgan and says her car was broken into last week at the school. Webb believes the criminals are crossing dangerous boundaries.
“I guess because I feel like some things should be off limits, like schools, day cares and churches,” said Webb. Teachers and parents are concerned that students or school employees could find themselves in harm’s way, if they come into contact with the criminals targeting the schools.”
“What if I would have been out there to go grab something out of my car? Would I have been shot? Would I have been hurt? You know, what would have happened to me? I don’t even want to think about it because it’s too scary,” said the victimized teacher last week.
Teachers and parents say they are disappointed in the response so far from the school district to the crime spree.
The victim we spoke with on Friday told us, “From the reaction I’ve seen, nothing has changed. We currently do not have security in the parking lot. Outside the building, they do have cameras but that hasn’t seemed to stop the criminals. All we want is help. We’re not asking you to do anything other than to give us someone to be out there to protect us.”
We are told that some teachers are so worried about the situation that they have been calling in sick as a protest.