Arrest made in burglary ring at Pasco County schools

$172,000 worth of equipment missing since October

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - More than $172,000 worth of iPads and Macbook laptops are gone from Pasco County Schools. The string of burglaries started in October and one school, Chasco Elementary, was hit five different times.

The latest break-in came Sunday at Calusa Elementary, a school that's now lost more than $71,000 worth of computer equipment.

But it's just one of at least 13 burglaries to schools in the same area of New Port Richey along Ridge Road.

Superintendent Kurt Browning says he thought schools were secure enough.  "We have fences around our schools, we have doors locked. We have windows locked, we have security cameras, we have alarm systems."

Some schools, like Calusa, do not have alarms.

And as we saw after watching footage, the security cameras are less than stellar.

Authorities showed us surveillance video from Ridgewood High School.  Underneath the static, investigators say there are four people breaking into the school after scaling a fence.

Monday the Sheriff's Office arrested one person they say was involved, former Ridgewood student Alexis Ortiz. The 19-year-old is accused of helping to steal 34 Macbook computers, an iPad and 37 iPods.

Investigators also say the stolen items are sometimes advertised on Facebook and sold to students.

"If you have a child that's out there and they have an Apple product that you didn't pay for, and you are wondering where they got it, please notify the sheriff's office," said Sheriff Chris Nocco.

Detectives say at least six people are involved in this burglary ring, and they hope one arrest will lead to more.

Meanwhile, students will have to go on learning without some of the modern technology they had gotten used to.

"It does set us back. But we are trying to keep moving forward and we are working hard at doing that and we hope to get this under control," said Browning.

The Sheriff's office says they are trying to get information from Apple to electronically trace the stolen equipment.

Meanwhile, the superintendent didn't offer any solutions to fix security issues, other than the possibility of getting new cameras.

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