Police investigating theft of earthquake preparedness items, garden supplies from Marshall Elementary 

click to enlarge Marshall Elementary School
  • Gabrielle Lurie/Special to The S.F. Examiner
  • A woman was seen on surveillance camera footage ransacking supply sheds on Marshall Elementary School property.
Police are on the hunt for a heartless thief who stole more than $2,000 worth of earthquake preparedness supplies, garden tools and instructional equipment from Marshall Elementary School in the Mission district Sunday, said Principal Peter Avila.

The thefts were captured on the school's video surveillance system.

The footage shows the incident taking place about 3 a.m. when a woman wearing a camouflage jacket and black pants and what appeared to be white boots climbed the fence of the school on 15th Street and jumped into the garden, which is also used as an outdoor science classroom, Avila said. The suspect walked over to the shed where the school keeps its earthquake preparedness supplies and helped herself to what was inside, Avila said. The woman appeared to be in her 30s or 40s.

The thief reportedly took radios, food, water and a dolly. Avila said the suspect made many trips between the shed and the fence, appearing to hand the stolen goods over the fence to a possible second suspect.

After the theft, the woman reportedly returned two more times that morning, at 6 and 9 a.m., Avila said. In the subsequent trips, she raided the garden supply shed of tools and instructional equipment such as white boards, Avila said.

School officials weren't aware of the thefts until Monday afternoon when they noticed things missing. They then went over their surveillance footage and were shocked by what they saw, Avila said.

A neighbor told the principal that he recognized the woman as someone who sells items on the street nearby.

Police are investigating the case and as of Wednesday afternoon no arrest was made. Investigators are not prepared at this time to release surveillance footage to the public, Officer Grace Gatpandan said.

Avila said this was the first time anyone has ever trespassed on the campus to steal from the school, which recently celebrated the centennial anniversary of its rebuilding following the 1906 earthquake.

“We feel violated,” he said. “Our trust is broken.”

He also expressed concern that if there was an earthquake, the school would now be woefully unprepared.

“We basically have nothing,” he said. All that was left in the earthquake preparedness shed were some bandages and glow sticks.

“A school should be one of those sacred places you just don't rob,” Avila said.

On Wednesday afternoon, longtime Mission resident Lisa Geduldig started a fundraising website to help replace the stolen items. Visit gofundme.com/ljz8j8 to donate.

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