Update: City Employee Charged with Selling Stolen Howard High Lap - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Update: City Employee Charged with Selling Stolen Howard High Laptops

Michael Douglas Michael Douglas

UPDATE FEBRUARY 4TH

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Chattanooga Police arrest a employee with the City Parks and Recreation Department for selling stolen laptops from Howard High School.

Police Department spokeswoman Rebecca Royval says warrants were obtained for Michael Douglas after it was learned that he had sold several of the stolen Dell laptops to different individuals. 

Royval confirmed for Eyewitness News that the arrest was the result of a tip to Crime Stoppers.

Investigators say Douglas sold three of the Dell Latitude E6400 laptops to three other city employees.  Those computers were recovered along with one more that was located at Douglas' residence.  Douglas reportedly told investigators that he bought the laptops from an unknown black male while standing in front of the Half Note, a club on MLK Boulevard. 

Douglas was charged with Theft over $1000 for having possession of the stolen property, and not with Burglary of the school. Police say there is no evidence to suggest that the Howard High School burglaries are in any way related to the burglaries at Lakeside Elementary and Normal Park.

Douglas was a Recreation Specialist for the South Chattanooga Recreation Center at 1151 E. 40th Street in St. Elmo.  City officials relieved him of duty until the investigation is complete.

JANUARY 14TH

By David Carroll

dcarroll@wrcbtv.com

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)- Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Jim Scales said out loud, what a lot of people have been saying quietly this week: he thinks the recent computer burglaries at Howard High are an inside job.

And although there have been no arrests, school officials say they're tightening up security across the county.

County Commissioners had plenty of questions about two major computer burglaries during the past week at Howard.  How did thieves know that some $60,000 worth of new computers were within easy reach, with no alarm sounding?

Dr. Scales told the Commission,  "I personally feel like it's an inside job. You don't just go in a huge school and quickly find all this new equipment and get in and out."

He added, "One of the frustrating things is, we ordered all this new equipment, we never got a chance to install it, it's all unopened, and still in the boxes. Someone had to know it was there."

Dr. Scales says it's a countywide problem, with technology thefts at 6 other schools during the past 18 months.  He says it's devastating to teachers and students, and says improving security is a top priority.

"We're going to go back and look at those rooms, and see if we need motion detectors and heat sensors so we'll know someone is there," Dr. Scales said.

That's important to the Commissioners, who vote to fund the school district. They know there will be more requests for new computers at budget time.

District 1 Commissioner Fred Skillern said, "I'm sorry but until you secure the schools, we don't need to be putting a lot of money into them.  I don't want to put new computers in schools that are not secure."

County Mayor Claude Ramsey asked Commissioners to consider offering a reward for information that would lead to the arrests of those responsible for the Howard thefts, which took place during the morning hours of January 6 and 11.  Dr. Scales assured Commissioners that the Howard burglar alarm system is now fully activated, and that principals and custodial workers are being ordered to make sure systems at each school are in good working order.

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