x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Burglars hit private school in Abu Dhabi

Money, documents and phones taken from Al Worood Academy, in tactic similar to other recent break-ins.

ABU DHABI // Mobile phones, documents and Dh16,000 (US$4,300) were stolen in a burglary of a private school on Sunday night, police said yesterday. Al Worood Academy, near 29th Street and Muroor Road, was closed on Monday as investigators combed the scene for clues in the break-in, which was carried out by two people after dark. No one was in custody last night.

"We saw in CCTV cameras there were two people, but it was dark so we could not identify their features," said Major Rashid al Dhaheri, the head of crime at the Shaabiya police station. Police said the suspects entered the school grounds through a gap in a wire fence. Once inside, they went directly to an administrative office with a safe. There, they tried unsuccessfully to crack open the safe. They took the safe to another room before giving up on it and turning to locked drawers.

"According to the school, the safe did not contain anything that important, only a few passports and documents," Major al Dhaheri said. "They then broke a number of iron drawers, which have a lock, but it's easy to break the lock with a strong bang." Those drawers contained the cash, documents and phones. No exams were stolen, contrary to rumours circulating on Monday. A staff member at the school, which serves pupils from kindergarten to Grade 12, said yesterday that nothing had been stolen, calling the burglary an act of vandalism. School administrators were not available for comment.

"The mobiles taken were old ones from a year or two; the school had confiscated them from students and nobody came asking for them," Major al Dhaheri said. "The CCTV footage showed [the burglars] using sharp iron tools, perhaps a screwdriver." The banging noises from the tools alerted the watchman, who called the authorities. When the suspects heard police sirens, officials said, they fled through the back fence.

"The school said the [fence] wires have been broken for a while," Major al Dhaheri said. On Monday, the school was closed as police collected fingerprints and other evidence. Only students taking a business exam were allowed inside a computer lab; the examination hall was considered part of the crime scene. "We gathered the fingerprints [on Monday], and now we will be taking fingerprints of the employees that work in these offices so we can narrow down the fingerprints of the suspects," the major said.

After determining which fingerprints belong to the suspects, police will compare them to the fingerprints of suspect students and convicts of related crimes or juvenile infractions. About a month ago, police dealt with a similar robbery at Al Rabeeh private school, also in Abu Dhabi, in which Dh145,000 was stolen. Police did not know whether that incident and Sunday's were related. "We have had several cases with the same technique," Major al Dhaheri said.

@Email:hdajani@thenational.ae