ENCINITAS, Calif. - For the fourth time in two weeks, a North County elementary school has been hit for its technology. The most recent incident occurred late Sunday evening at Ocean Knoll Elementary in Encinitas.
A chained gate leading to a parking lot is where the burglary began.
"They're putting their car right up to it and then they push and push and push and boom," explained Gerry Devitt, the director of facilities for the Encinitas Union School District. He was referring to the method officials believe the thief or thieves used to break the gate.
Once on the school's campus, the thieves made their way to the classrooms, gaining entry by breaking two windows, which are now boarded up.
Devitt received a call regarding the incident at about 12:15 a.m.
"Once they break in, the burglar alarm goes off and the security patrols head for the schools," he said.
The thieves got away with five iPads totaling more than $2,500. This is the fourth theft at a North County elementary school involving iPads or laptops in the past two weeks.
The first occurred at Cardiff Elementary. Then, two other schools were hit and finally Ocean Knoll, all within 5 miles. A total of more than two dozen iPads and two dozen laptops were taken.
However, it is not just isolated to the Encinitas area. There have been break-ins at schools from Lakeside to Poway since November, making Sunday's incident the 13th.
"You hear that this is happening but you always hope that it's not your school or any school for that matter," said principal Angelica Lopez.
The Encinitas Union School District is beefing up security.
"We've added extra security patrols," said Devitt. "We've added some cameras and some other systems we're working on right with the iPads themselves."
IPad technology does allow for locking and tracking devices which may be possible with those stolen. The district's name is also on the back. They are asking the public – even the thieves – for help.
"For many of us, including me, this is like our second home," said Lopez, "I want obviously for whoever's doing it to realize that they're really just hurting the students."
The multi-agency task force known as CATCH, which stands for Computer and Technology Crime High-tech response team, is on the case.
Law enforcement officials say they do have leads but are still asking the public for any information leading to the arrests of the thieves.