POWAY, Calif. (KGTV) -- When a custodian showed up at Tierra Bonita Elementary School early Thursday morning the first thing he noticed was the cart abandoned in the front parking lot. The second thing that struck him as odd was that one of the front gates that's usually locked was ajar.
He soon discovered the awful truth. Someone had broken into 11 classrooms and stolen 172 iPads. The thief removed the glass from a window in room 103. From there, they had access to a second classroom. The drawers and cabinets of both classrooms has been ransacked, but that wasn't the worst of it.
The thieves also managed to get into the library, where they found the motherlode of iPads, most of which were secured in locked computer carts. The carts were torn apart. The iPads were gone, but other laptops were left untouched.
"They clearly were targeting our Apple products because if they weren't they would have taken our chrome books," said principal Mandy Bedard. "Its really unfortunate. These devices are in the hands of our students who are learning every single day. These devices have come to us through the support of our district and our parent community."
Now they're gone, and Bedard estimates the loss to be more than $90,000.
Poway Unified is scrambling to file insurance claims to replace the stolen items, but getting new iPads by the start of the school year may be a stretch.
"Its really a tragedy. Its so heartbreaking," said Danielle Allphin, who is president of the Tierra Bonita Foundation, a group that raises money for technology in the school.
Tierra Bonita is an Apple distinguished school, which means the stolen iPads are critical to the lesson plan.
Allphin will have three children attending Tierra Bonita in August. She hasn't found a way to tell her kids about the theft.
"I think that the idea that their home away from home is not so secure is heartbreaking for me, and I think that might be a little disheartening for them, too," Allphin said, fighting back tears.
The theft is being investigated by the San Diego County Sheriff. A detective told 10News some of the stolen iPads were activated in southeast San Diego sometime Thursday, but so far no suspects have been identified.
If you have any information about the heist, detectives hope you'll call the San Diego County Sheriff.