Thieves target nonprofit Santa Rosa school

A small, nonprofit school was burglarized over the holiday break with thieves making off with computers, cash, paychecks and the school's minivan, school officials said Sunday.

The intruder or intruders entered through a second-story window, likely on Dec. 23, by picking away the putty that secured a plexiglass window, said New Horizon School & Learning Center founder and director Marianne McCarthy Campbell. Motion detectors were believed to have been disabled.

"It's so depressing," she said.

The school, located in a converted house on Third Street in Santa Rosa, serves 17 full-time students, many with learning disabilities who have failed to thrive on traditional campuses. An additional 12 students are served by programs at offsite locations.

The burglars found a cache of keys and broke many in locks as they attempted to break into filing cabinets and drawers, school officials said.

"The keys were all over the place," said Karen Schoeman, the school's administrative secretary, who discovered the theft Wednesday.

Musical instruments were pulled from their cases and cabinets and her desk had been rifled through, she said.

"As I looked further, I saw much more of a mess everywhere," she said.

The stolen computers were loaded with software with voice recorders designed to help children with dyslexia or other communication difficulties craft papers and print reports.

The theft totaled about $35,000, Campbell said, but a key loss is the school's vehicle, a van purchased new nine years ago.

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