DeKALB – Police say two local teenagers broke into several public schools before they were apprehended after one broke into a DeKalb church Tuesday.
DeKalb police arrested DeKalb residents Christopher Becker and Justin Butz, both 18, after they responded to a report of a break-in at the DeKalb Cathedral of Praise at 1126 S. 1st St. in DeKalb. According to a police news release, police found Becker near the building in possession of burglary tools.
Police said Becker admitted to trying to break into the church’s office and later admitted he and Butz committed several burglaries at District 428 schools since April 11. Police later took Butz into custody at his home.
Becker and Butz first caused damage to the concession building April 11 at Huntley Middle School, 1514 S. Fourth St. They subsequently broke into and stole items from Lincoln Elementary and Tyler Elementary schools and Huntley Middle School, police said.
Becker was charged with eight counts of burglary, six counts of criminal damage to state-supported property, three counts of criminal defacement to property and theft. Butz was charged with seven counts of burglary, six counts of criminal damage to state supported property and theft.
Becker and Butz also were charged in connection with a burglary at the Fairview Cemetery that was reported Tuesday after they admitted to committing the crime.
Police recovered more than $500 in cash, candy, keys, a cash register and a trumpet the two had taken during the burglaries.
Detective Lt. Bob Redel said some of the schools were broken into more than once, adding he did not know why Becker and Butz targeted the schools. Redel said Becker and Butz had attended DeKalb schools, although he did not know if either graduated.
“They did not give us any great reason for why they did it,” Redel said. “If they saw cash, they took cash. If they saw food, they took food. They went on computers at the school.”
District 428 Facilities Operations Manager Tammy Carson said school janitors were told to look for signs of break-ins when they arrived at the buildings, although sometimes the only thing amiss in the school would be a pile of food garbage left because Becker and Butz had eaten in the school.
For instance, Carson said, Founders Elementary was broken into twice, but school officials did not notice because there wasn’t any obvious damage to the school. Carson said the district had to replace the locks at Lincoln Elementary School after Becker and Butz stole a set of keys. The district also installed additional security cameras in all one-story school buildings.
Lincoln was broken into in the early morning hours of April 30. Tyler was hit during the same time May 1, Carson said. Huntley Middle School was broken into twice.
“We’re glad the burglaries and vandalism have come to an end,” Carson said, “because we’ve spent time and resources dealing with the damages.”