Continued break-ins escalated to a stolen car

Jocelyn Overmyer

On Sept. 13, the recent break-ins escalated, resulting into two more thefts and a stolen car in the front lot after school hours.

The cars of Juniors Carmen Monroe Watts, Amelia Kennedy, Makaela Ures and teacher Heather Curtaz were all targeted on Wednesday.

At about 5:35 p.m., the varsity cheerleading team ended practice and found the back window of teammate Amelia Kennedy’s Volkswagen Jetta smashed open. Kennedy’s bag, filled with a few textbooks and binders, along with Ures’s bag, were missing.

Ures realized that her car keys were in her stolen bag that she had left in Kennedy’s car during their cheerleading practice, and that her Honda Civic had been stolen.

Junior's car window smashed open after bags and keys were taken from the car
Junior’s car window smashed open after bags and keys were taken from the car

“It’s upsetting because you come to school to feel safe and your car gets broken into because someone sees binders,” Ures said.

A few hours after the incident, a woman who lives in Riviera Circle reached out to Ures’s father through Facebook, and said she found Ures’s bag and ID along with another bag, and invited them to come view her security tapes.

From 4:12 p.m. to 4:19 p.m., the security cameras caught an unidentified woman pulling up in a black Camaro with Ures’s stolen car right behind it, driven by an unidentified man. The license plate could not be clearly seen in the tapes.

“[In the footage] you can see them dump out all the stuff from our bags out on the side of the road and take what they want and leave the bags on the ground. They then proceed to get back into the cars and drive away,” Ures said.

In the spot next to where Ures’s stolen car was, Monroe-Watts left her back window slightly cracked open while she went to cross country practice. The thief used the open window to unlock the door and take Monroe-Watt’s backpack, which contained two textbooks and three binders.

Monroe-Watts, who left the parking lot minutes before cheer practice ended, didn’t realize that her backpack was missing from her backseat until she was home.

Students’ cars have not been the only targets of these break-ins. Curtaz, on Sept. 11, had numerous belongings taken from her car.

“The first time was two weeks ago, and now teacher stuff is getting stolen. It’s not the fact that it’s just one student, now it’s becoming a bigger deal,” senior Jacqueline Massey-Blake said.

Massey-Blake first saw Kennedy’s car coming from her cross-country practice.

“There was this car that had obviously been broken into, glass on the ground. No one was around it so I knew that no one else noticed so I walked around to see if anything was taken,” Massey-Blake said.

Massey-Blake asked the group of cheerleaders that were leaving their practice if this car belonged to any of them. Upon confirming that it was in fact one of theirs, Massey-Blake went  to the main office to notify someone of the break-in.

Cheer teammate senior Caroline Rafner, who was with Kennedy and Ures, called the Marin County Deputy after they discovered the car was missing.

Cindy Hall and the on-site janitor quickly responded to help comfort the shaken girls and wait for the police to arrive.

“It’s one thing to steal a laptop, but it’s another thing to steal a car. They also could’ve been armed, and it’s a group of people. There were also a lot of practices and people here so I feel like security should have been upped at that point, when safety is in question,” Kennedy said.

A police officer took a statement from Ures and proceeded to put out an alert on Ures’s car. The officer concluded that the car was not needed for evidence. The police were unable to officially register the car as stolen because it is registered under Ures’s sister, and needed a signature from the sister.

“It’s kind of ridiculous because all this time they’re going to be gone with my car until we get a signature from [my sister], who doesn’t live near here,” Ures said.

According to Rafner, who parked a row over, her wallet was in plain sight, yet her car wasn’t broken into.

“It’s not fair to me because someone thought a binder was valuable. I know that we are going to get emails that say ‘Hide your valuables,’ but to me that binder isn’t a valuable thing,” Ures said.

The contents that have been stolen are varied and unusual. Aside from the car, many school supplies and miscellaneous items have been taken during the multiple break-ins. According to Ures and Kennedy, the culprits were seen taking glue sticks, white-out and pens from the bags in the security tape.

The lack of security cameras in the parking lots have made it difficult to help identify the person(s) that have been targeting cars at Redwood.

“This is kind of ridiculous that there are no cameras. This should be a priority with all the break-ins that have been happening,” Rafner said.

Ures, Kennedy and Massey-Blake believe that cameras should be installed, or at least immediate action should be taken.

“Even just having an admin or one parent that wants to volunteer to literally sit in the middle of the rows in a lawn chair, and if they see anything suspicious they could call someone. Aside from that it’s a longer process to get cameras installed,” Massey-Blake said.

The police are holding an ongoing investigation about the break-ins in the Redwood front lot.