Dayton police found four juveniles in the act of breaking into a school early Saturday morning and apprehended three of them as they fled on foot, using a Taser to catch one teen girl, according to police records.
The incident — at World of Wonder School at Residence Park — came after police identified a pattern of five break-ins at Dayton Public Schools buildings in West Dayton since May 30. Sgt. Paul Saunders said the teens caught Saturday are suspects in all of the cases.
“We don’t know for sure yet, but … it would be pretty unusual to find two different groups of kids that wanted to break into a school frequently (using the same method),” Saunders said.
Most of the break-ins happened on weekend nights, with the perpetrators breaking a school window with a rock to get inside, police reports said.
The three teens were booked on suspicion of felony vandalism and breaking and entering, plus misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and obstructing official business. The fourth teen has been identified but police are still looking for him.
According to a police report, World of Wonder School, at 4411 Oakridge Drive, had been broken into three previous times — May 30, June 4 and June 10. Westwood Elementary was broken into on June 9, and Thurgood Marshall High School was hit on the June 10-11 weekend.
The juveniles involved would enter the administrator’s office and teachers’ lounge, according to police accounts of video evidence. In two of the incidents, the perpetrators took food, and in the others, they took nothing.
DPD Maj. Eric Henderson had sent an email to West Patrol staff June 12, asking them to increase patrols around the affected schools. Officer Jeremy Stewart was doing just that as Friday night struck midnight.
According to his report, Stewart saw the juveniles near the World of Wonder playground, then heard glass break, and the teens were gone. Other crews arrived, surrounded the building and saw the kids inside. The teens then ran out of the building, east across Elmhurst toward Shenandoah.
Three of the four juveniles were caught, including one girl who was Tased as she tried to escape through a backyard two blocks from the school. An airsoft gun was found inside the school near the broken window the teens entered.
On Sunday afternoon, police responded to another window broken by a rock at Westwood School. Saunders said he didn’t believe anyone entered the school that day. Asked whether the three juveniles were still in custody at the time of Sunday’s incident, Saunders said “that would not be a good assumption.”