Sunday, September 8, 2019

The Not So Great Locker Heist

Ironic how the best blog post title in all my years of blogging is due to such an infuriating incident.


The girls returned to school last week after what felt like an extremely long summer break.  In the days leading up to the first day of school, they cleaned their rooms, emptied their closets of outgrown clothing and organized all their school supplies.  They even spent time on their Chromebooks creating covers for their binders.

The day before the first day of school was a weird one for me.  Have you ever had one of those days where it feels like the universe is fighting against you?  You're swimming against the current and getting nowhere.  That was my day.  The grand finale came at bedtime.  This was actually somewhat amusing, but I'm kind of getting sick of everyone getting offended over every little thing.  I shared a photo of my Stephen King wristlet on a FB fabric/sewing group.  Someone responded with the angry emoji, which one would immediately think was a mistake, because how can a wristlet cause anger?  But, no, it was no mistake.  She commented (and I'm going to paraphrase here) that because the wristlet showed the cover of the book IT, the wristlet contributes to a dangerous and hostile environment for clowns.

I wish I was kidding.

The next morning, I dropped the girls off at school and I had a nice, quiet day.  I thought the world was returning to normal.  The girls' BFF was coming home with us after school because they are all in the same dance class and that class is early.  Because my kids do not yet have phones (and thank god for that as you'll soon find out), she has my number saved in her phone.  So I'm sitting outside the school waiting for all the girls and my phone rings.  It's the girls and I'm thinking they're going to ask if it's okay to stay for a few minutes to set up their lockers.  But instead I hear how Anna returned to her locker at the end of the day to find the lock missing and her backpack gone.

I fly into the school and find them in their hall, which, I have to mention, is no easy task considering that the architect of that school must have been on drugs when he designed it.  All of her team teachers are there and two of them are going through every single locker in their team area.  Last year, their lockers had built-in locks.  This year, they were given an external combination lock to use.  The school has a master key and the teachers were checking to see if her backpack was in a different locker.  Now, I'm guessing they thought she may have accidentally placed her stuff in the wrong locker but didn't want to say this.

The teachers were very upbeat and optimistic and kept telling us that someone probably grabbed her backpack by mistake.  I'm very skeptical and I just couldn't understand how a 12 year old could grab the wrong backpack unless that backpack looked exactly the same as hers.  And if she had grabbed the wrong backpack, wouldn't her backpack be left behind?  I wasn't buying it.  Someone checked Lost and Found, the gym, the cafeteria, the nurse's office.  No backpack.

That morning, the kids had received their locks in class and locker numbers.  They had some time to practice with their locks and place their backpacks and supplies into their lockers.  Because you really only need something to take notes with on the first day of school, Anna did not return to her locker until the end of the day.  I should note too that they don't get locker breaks between each class.  Students are only allowed locker breaks at certain times.

I didn't find out until we arrived home after school that in the morning, Anna had emptied her backpack and placed all of her new, nicely labeled binders and notebooks into her locker.  She had also hung up her little whiteboard.  All of it was missing.  I immediately called the school and left a message for the principal letting him know this fact.  I had spoken to him before we left the school but I wanted to provide further proof that this wasn't a case of someone grabbing the wrong backpack.

So I know some of you are thinking that maybe, just maybe, there's a kid whose parents couldn't or wouldn't buy her new binders or a backpack and so she swiped Anna's.  Here's the thing - I thought that too, for a few minutes, but it just doesn't work.  Our school system has a program where backpacks and supplies are discreetly provided to those who need them.  Plus, wouldn't it be weird or obvious to steal and then use someone's (not very common looking) backpack from the same school?  In all seriousness though, my heart goes out to kids who find themselves in a situation where they feel like they have to steal to get the school supplies they need.  But I'm pretty sure that's not what happened here.

I believe this was a crime of opportunity.  Maybe Anna didn't secure the lock all the way that morning and someone walking down the hall noticed the lock hanging lower than the others.  Maybe someone in her homeroom sitting near her took note of her locker combination when she was practicing that morning and at one of the locker breaks, tried it out, took the lock off and thought it would be funny to move all of her stuff to another location.

As you can imagine, this has all been terribly upsetting to Anna.  The first day of school is stressful enough for her.  There's a lot to remember and she's afraid the teachers won't understand how she has to go to the nurse's office.  And then this happens.  If you've ever had your house or car broken into, or had something stolen, you know how horrible it feels to have your privacy invaded.  I was and still am very angry.  (I can't even really talk about how angry I am.)  I think it was someone being a jerk and that jerk needs to apologize and be punished.  The assistant principal is still trying to figure out who is responsible.  There are security cameras but when there are a ton of kids in the hall, it's hard to see details.

Last year, because the girls were entering middle school, I bought them new backpacks from Pottery Barn Teen.  They needed big, sturdy backpacks because of all the binders and books they carry to and from school.  I told them to choose wisely because those backpacks needed to last them through the three years of middle school.  I know some people buy their kids new backpacks every year.  I don't because I know the old ones won't get used, especially if there are five old ones per kid, and I just can't stand that kind of waste.  Friday night, I ordered Anna a new backpack from Pottery Barn Teen to replace the missing one.  We had to go out this weekend and buy all new notebooks and binders and binder dividers, and label everything all over again.  Thank goodness she was carrying her glasses with her.  Thank goodness she didn't have a phone in her locker.  Oh, another theory I have is that someone went into her locker (crime of opportunity) and thought he/she would find a phone in her backpack.  When no phone was found, the perpetrator took everything out of her locker in a fight of rage.  I know, I'm assuming a lot for a 12 year old.  But someone did steal everything from her locker!

I told the assistant principal that I'm expecting a phone call on the last day of school.  After all the kids clear out for the day, there's going to be a locker (on the other side of the school from Anna's hallway) with a lock still on it.  Someone's going to use the master key to open it and in that locker, they'll find Anna's backpack and school supplies.  She says she hopes to resolve the matter well before the last day of school.  I'm thinking because I went out and bought her all new stuff, the mystery will be solved tomorrow.  Isn't that how it always works?

So, yeah, the not so great locker heist.


LEfting said...

So upsetting, keep us posted. I sure hope they find not only the stuff that was stolen but the person responsible.

LEfting said...

Hi, me again...could the school make an announcement over the PA system that they are looking at the video of that area of the school, and if the person responsible comes forward before they examine the video the punishment will be less...just an idea! Also could they ask the students if anyone SAW anyone around her locker they should come forward. Might help.

Chantel said...

Ugh! Poor Anna. That is terrible and SO stressful. To have to replace all that stuff as well. I agree they were looking for a phone or airpods. But to clear out it all, the locker mirror? Really? I bet they took it all and trashed it, however. They don't want to risk getting caught.

Julia said...

What an infuriating situation! I hope she gets over it soon and keeps the story as a sort of adventure to tell friends later on.

Merch said...

Theoretically there were only a couple times when kids could even be at their lockers so that would limit the security footage to look through... otherwise a kid was at the lockers when they weren’t supposed to be which should make it even more obvious on the footage.

Also my guess would be it wasn’t one kid but a few working together/egging each other on.... so that would also be easier to see on the footage...

Former middle school teacher here, I’d keep making a fuss. The administration might drop it because it’s “droppable” as in, no violence, not ongoing (yet).

Former teacher, mystery book reader ;)

lesley said...

That's horrible, the poor girl. I remember in high school, a girl's expensive flute was missing from her locker. They searched every locker in that school and it was found in mine! Someone had put it in there. Thankfully, they believed that I hadn't taken it. This was 45 years ago and I still remember the horror of it. I feel for Anna, she's not going to feel good about her locker for a while. Why do kids do these things, I will never know.

Anonymous said...

Middle school is tough! In my experience, middle school is a huge change from the sweet innocence of elementary. When I was in middle school over 15 years ago, there was a pregnant girl, a girl who overdosed on ilicit drugs during the school day, stink bombs, fights, and much more. Children are starting to become mini-adults and following the habits of adults good and bad! My guess is that actually a lower income student grabbed it and brought it home for a younger sibling or another family member to use... or to maybe even trade/ barter with. Either way I deeply hope that your property is found and returned to you!

At my own high school (huge high school of over 3000 students), my friend had her phone stollen from right in front of her when she accidentally dropped it on the floor and another student grabbed it in ran. She took after him -but he took off in a sprint, and it was so crowded in the commons (think like concert type crowd) that she lost him and since she did not know who he was (we were in a school of 3000, but stayed in our "honors classes" bubble) she was unable to get her phone back, and her mom worked the front office!
"Phone charms" were also super popular in high school, and the ones that dangled from your pocket made it easy for people to pull your phone out of your back pocket during passing periods, as the halls were so crowded you couldn't feel them pick your pockets! I actually think crimes of opportunity in middle school/ high school happen super frequently!
I can only assume they brought the phone home and either had an older sibling who could sell it, or gave it to someone in the family to use.

I remember when I volunteered at a tough elementary school a couple years ago, and children would try to hide part of their free government subsidized lunch under their clothes or in jackets so they could bring it to a younger sibling or family member (this was against the rules, and you were in trouble if you were caught- the children had to get a "full" meal and throw away any food not eaten)! Anything you gave them they wanted to bring home to share with their family. They want to contribute to their family. One 8 year old proudly told me once that she baby sits her younger siblings, so her parents could work sometimes! I expressed concern about this to the teacher- but it just goes to show poverty is a complicated issue! It was so heart braking to hear her excitedly tell me one day that her mom had gotten $200 worth of tips from the restaurant, it was the biggest amount of money her mom had ever brought home and she was grinning from ear to ear!
However, it most definitely does not make it right that Anna had her things stollen, especially when hard work went into preparing everything! I know how it feels as I had my phone stollen on holiday and it is truly terrible! Best wishes!