A 31-year-old Chicago man who worked as a contract IT employee for Riverside School District 96 has been charged with stealing three iPads, two MacBook Pro laptop computers one Apple TV and two Apple desktop computers and selling the items to pawn shops.
Riverside police apprehended Lamawr C. Palmer outside his home in the 4600 block of West McLean Street in Chicago on Thursday at about 6 p.m., following a two-week investigation.
Palmer was charged with theft of school property, a Class 2 felony, and is being held at Cook County Jail with his bond set at $10,000. Palmer’s next court date is Feb. 9 at Maybrook.
According to Riverside police, Palmer was an employee of Robert Half technology, which places contract employees with clients. The items Palmer allegedly stole were both newer devices still in their boxes and older items.
The equipment was taken from both Blythe Park and Central schools in Riverside and was located in areas that Palmer reportedly had access to in his job as a contract IT employee.
Palmer reportedly told police that he took the items, “because Riverside School District 96 has $30 million in the bank” and because the district “had stuff just laying around” to take.
Don Tufano, who is District 96’s director of innovation and instructional technology, first contacted Riverside police on Jan. 14, when he noticed that a iPad was missing from a room inside Blythe Park School.
At the time, Tufano surmised that the device had been taken during the school’s winter break, between Dec. 19 and Jan. 8. Tufano used the device’s IP address to track it to a location in Lincolnwood.
Subsequently, Tufano discovered other items that had gone missing, eight in total, with an estimated total value of $5,300.
Tufano and Riverside police worked together to try to locate the other items, and police reported they located some of the stolen items at pawn shops in Oak Park and Chicago. Palmer’s name was on the pawn slips, police said. He had been paid a little more than $1,800 for the pawned items, according to police.
After staking out Palmer’s residence on Jan. 28, they arrested him as he pulled his vehicle into the alley outside the building.
Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said the investigation continues and that additional charges may be filed.