UPDATED: Dr. Scales left in dark about Howard High computer thefts - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATED: Dr. Scales left in dark about Howard High computer thefts

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - Thieves rip off more equipment from Howard High. The superintendent didn't know about it until we asked, and the county mayor is concerned it's happened again.

Thieves have hit Howard High School stealing thousands of dollars worth of computers, and this is not the first time.

The school was also hit twice in January. That time, the thieves took 29 computers, valued at $55,000.

Superintendent Dr. Jim Scales told Hamilton County commissioners that during 2009, crooks took $90,000 worth of equipment from the Howard alone. That accounted for nearly half of the $200,000 worth of stolen property and vandalism system-wide.

"Why weren't you made aware?" Eyewitness News' Antwan Harris asks the superintendent.

"I'm not sure. It happened in June and I got caught this morning." That's Doctor Jim Scales reaction after Eyewitness News confronted him about Howard High School's latest break-in.

In June, four computers were stolen from a media classroom, the same one that was hit by thieves in January.

That turned out to be an inside job.

Scales says the assistant principal didn't tell him what happened, which is against school policy.

"Is it protocol that you be made aware whenever this is happens?" Harris asks.

"Yes it is," Dr. Scales says.

Scales was grilled by county commissioners after the first two break-ins because the security system wasn't working.

Scales says in this latest robbery, the system was functional, but it wasn't turned on.

That's not the answer County Mayor Claude Ramsey expected 7 months later.

"The security system does not work very well if it is not turned on," says Mayor Ramsey. "I can't imagine after the experiences we have had down there, with a system in place, it ought to be turned on."

Police say the thieves broke out a door to the room and made off with more than $3,600 worth of equipment.

The assistant principal called police at 7:15 in the evening, saying he suspected it happened 5 to 10 minutes before authorities were notified.

Scales says this could indicate another inside job. "It is frustrating to me that it keeps happening. It tarnishes the image of the school. It tarnishes the image of the community and costs us dollars."

Since the incident, Dr. Scales says the alarm system is working and the computers were replaced before the first day of school.

Scales says he will be looking into more security measures to keep the equipment locked up.

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