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Sep 5, 2007

Vocational school hit hard by burglars

Story PictureIt was not a case of homicide but criminals have delivered a major hit to scores of students at a Belize City vocational institution. News Five’s Janelle Chanona has the story.

Sheldon Samuels, Manager, ITVET Belize
“It’s a big blow for us. School is supposed to open tomorrow and we need to get back our computers for our computer lab.”

Today officials of the Institute for Technical Vocational Education and Training continued to lament the loss of more than fifteen thousand dollars worth of electronic equipment that was stolen from the school five days ago.

Initial investigations reveal that between one-thirty and two on Thursday morning, four men invaded the campus, ambushed, beat and tied up the security guard, before breaking into the library.

The burglars then hacked their way through the sheetrock wall of the computer lab and stole ten Dell CPUs, a laptop, a server, two flat screen monitors, a DVD player, a VCR and two gallons of paint. The thieves also tried to steal a fan from the kitchen downstairs but a metal bar in the ceiling made that impossible.

Eyewitnesses say the men then escaped with the loot in a red SUV that was parked on St. Joseph’s Street. Tonight school officials suspect the culprits were intimately familiar with the institution’s layout.

Sheldon Samuels
“They knew exactly where the lab was and they knew exactly how to get in. We had a break in quite some time aback and they followed the same trend, they came in through the same window, the same pane, louvers that we had replaced, that’s the same louver that they took out back again, they came in through the same door as well as they broke the same location, the same area to get into the computer lab and they went specifically for the electronic items. So we do believe that they are past students, who are doing this.”

In the previous robbery, the thieves stole a number of computer monitors. Administrators today appealed to the public not to purchase any of the missing equipment.

Roderick Elijio, Librarian, ITVET Belize
“The Ministry of Education has invested, as the manager said before, quite a large sum of money in this so that we could give the best to trainees out there, give the best to our Belizeans and we are in for that. And when this thing happens all you could think about is to do somebody something you know, but we don’t need to go that. All they need, we appeal to them, bring it back because they could do it understand, and we could stop this sort of thing and it’s our own that are doing this to us.”

Sheldon Samuels
“The lab is for them so when they steal these computers, they are actually stealing from themselves and for future students who are going to come to the institution. So it really hurts but it does not totally destroy us, we will get back. We will get support from the business community I believe, and we will put our computer lab back together.”

According to Samuels, additional security measures will be put in place this school year until a permanent system can be finalized. Despite the setbacks, students are asked to report for orientation sessions tomorrow morning in preparation for normal classes next week Tuesday. Reporting for News Five, I am Janelle Chanona.

If you have any information about the ITVET’s stolen property, please contact Sheldon Samuels at 224-4798 or the nearest police station. Some one hundred and forty students are currently enrolled in the various training courses at the school.

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