Decatur Township Schools plug potential security leak after home burglary

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 11, 2015) - Officials at the Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township had to take quick action Monday morning after a burglary at the home of one of their teachers.

The teacher, who lives in the 3800 block of Brill Road on the south side of Indianapolis, called Indianapolis Metropolitan Police just after 6 a.m. Monday, reporting an intruder in his home. He told police he woke up around 5:15 a.m. to the sound of footsteps in his house. He saw that his back door was ajar, and then saw a male suspect in a white hoodie run past him out of the house.

The teacher chased the suspect out of the house, but the burglar got away with a computer, and iPad and a set of keys. Among the keys was an electronic key fob which gives access to school buildings.

The teacher called his school principal to report the burglary, including the stolen access key fob. That prompted district officials to move quickly deactivate the teacher’s key fob.

“We will deactivate anybody’s key fob immediately as soon as they report that it’s missing or stolen,” said Decatur Township Schools spokesperson, Susanne Rothenberg. “It’s on a very individual basis. So we are very easily able to deactivate one person’s key fob while everybody else still has business as usual.”

District officials say deactivating the fob will prevent any unauthorized person from gaining entry into school buildings.

It’s also possible the burglar wasn’t even aware of what he had stolen. The access keys are simple black and purple circle fobs that attach to a key chain. They are not labeled like many ID swipe cards.

“If you are a teacher or staff and you have access through a key fob to be able to walk in and handle your business, then you’ll be able to get in,” Rothenberg said. “But without one of those fobs, you have to go through our security protocols.”

Those protocols include checking in at a school’s front office and submitting a state ID for validity.

Rothenburg also said each teacher in the district carries a limited number of internal access keys, usually to a teacher’s classroom and a staff restroom. Access keys to sensitive school areas like server rooms and student records are not carried by teachers.

District officials pointed out the modern technology that allows them to quickly deal with incidents like this. Ten years ago, when school employees were carrying around master keys, security officials likely would have needed to start changing locks on buildings throughout the school district. In this case, they were able to prevent the potential security leak within an hour of it being reported.

The teacher was not able to provide a detailed description of the burglar. He could only tell police the suspect was a male, wearing a white hoodie at the time of the burglary. Efforts to track the locations of the computer and iPad were unsuccessful, according to an IMPD incident report.

Decatur Township School officials said the stolen computer and iPad were not issued by the school district.

Neighbors who live down the street from the teacher want to know if they were victims of the same suspect. A woman, who did not want to be identified, said two cars in her mother’s driveway had money stolen out of them around the same time as the Monday morning burglary.

“The odds are one in a million,” the woman said. “Because stuff like that doesn’t happen much around here. It could very well be the same person, and it’s very scary.”