Burglars make off with new computers from school

Thefts from Purpose & Potential Christian Arts Academy leave students disappointed

  • Speaking about the theft in the computer room where the new monitors had been installed, student Phillip Tillman (left), 17, a senior who lost his personal amplifier from the music equipment storeroom; Bridgette Matthews (standing), and her sister LaCona Matthews-Smith (seated), both administrators and teachers at the school; and students Cierra Carter and Andre Scott, both juniors.
Speaking about the theft in the computer room where the new monitors… (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun )
November 10, 2010|By Nick Madigan, The Baltimore Sun

The empty desks in the computer room, left with nothing more than dust and a few old cables, tell the story of the burglary as vividly as any anecdote.

Thieves who broke into a private Christian school in Northeast Baltimore over the weekend seemed to know exactly where the most valuable items were, school officials said Wednesday, prompting the theory that the perpetrators are former students. The burglars made off with 17 new desktop computers that had been set up just two weeks ago, as well as sound and music equipment from behind a stage.

They also took items as seemingly trivial as cleaning fluids and candy and left behind a scatological calling card on a floor. Lamont Matthews, the president of Purpose & Potential Christian Arts Academy, said that last "vindictive" act showed "some kind of connection" between the perpetrators and the school, which is in an old stone building behind Hamilton Presbyterian Church on Harford Road.

Students who had typed essays and compositions into the computers and stored the work there said they are disappointed, not just over the lost work and the missing machines but because of the possibility that former students might be responsible.

"At the time, I had no words for it," Phillip Tillman, a 17-year-old percussionist and keyboard player who lost a $250 amplifier to the thieves, said of the moment he heard about the burglary. He might at some point be able to replace the amplifier, a birthday present last year from his father, he said, "but it won't be the same, because it was a gift."

André Scott, 16, said the school, which has 67 students and was founded a decade ago, "feels like a family," and that the burglary had been disheartening for the actual family that runs it — Matthews, his wife, Patricia, and their three daughters.

"Everything goes into the school," Scott said. "I know how hard they work to get what they get."

Bridgette Matthews, one of the trio of sisters who both teach and help operate the school, said the computers had been purchased with an $8,640 state grant, and that she had no idea whether the money would be forthcoming again. The school struggles financially, she said, because most of the students are from low-income families and cannot pay the full tuition.

The burglars evidently intended to take more than they did, having dragged a $2,000 electric piano out of the music room and into a hallway, ultimately abandoning it.

"It was an inside job," Matthews said. "They knew where to go. And they didn't ransack the place."

nick.madigan@baltsun.com

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