Thieves steal 60 laptops from East Oakland elementary school

When staff arrived at Oakland's Markham Elementary on Krause Avenue on Tuesday morning, they quickly saw they had a problem.

"They walked in and saw the glass all over and broken windows," said Principal Anita Summerlin.

Sometime during the holiday weekend, thieves broke in. Summerlin showed KTVU one of seven classrooms where windows were broken, but since repaired. 

The suspect or suspects entered the classrooms and got their hands on two of these, locked storage boxes they pried open to steal 68 Chromebook laptops.

"The look on the students faces was just of devastation," Summerlin said. "They really take pride in their computers. They take pride in the technology coming to the school.  And they were just totally devastated." 

Someone dropped a particular laptop and left it in the school yard.

The devices have distinct markings of the district and are used for statewide tests as well as lessons in reading, writing and math.

"Our students here really depend on these Chromebooks and their education. This is the 21st century. Not having those materials really sets these kids back," Summerlin said.

In January, the same school was robbed of 40 Kindle e-readers.

What happened at Markham is not an isolated incident. The district says this calendar year alone they've had tens of thousands of dollars of equipment stolen, and have thousands of dollars on repairs at other locations.

"Just this school year, we've had a couple of break-ins at skyline high school in the hills, we had a break-in at Masem Park Academy in far east Oakland.  During the summer we had a break-in at KDOL which is located within Metwest high school," said John Sasaki, spokesperson for the Oakland Unified School District.

The district is now looking at ways to beef up security at Markham and other schools.

"This is happening a lot, and it's a trend we want to see stop," said Sasaki.

The district says these thefts amount to more than $100,000.

In the case of Markham, the district says it has insurance to replace the stolen items, and police have some video surveillance they'll be looking at to possibly identify the culprits.