Two years after it was stolen from a school for children with autism, $20,000 piece of equipment recovered

“It’s definitely a really happy, happy homecoming.”
The school's security footage captured the theft in 2019.
The school's security footage captured the theft in 2019.(kold)
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 6:20 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -Two years after a break in left a Tucson school for children with autism out thousands of dollars in school supplies, police have uncovered one of the largest missing items.

In November of 2019, Intermountain Academy staff and students walked in on a Monday to a trashed classroom and security footage with a telling story.

A smart board was gone, along with several Chrome Books, two mini fridges and a myriad of other items. In broad daylight, their security systems captured someone taking away with it all. It left staff and students worried and frustrated.

“(The theft) like really prevented us from learning efficiently, not just our classroom, but the entire school,” said Alex Lapadat, a student at Intermountain Academy in 2019.

Now, the Intermountain Academy has a new location and starting a new school year next week. So, when Julie Shivanonda, principal of the academy, got a call from TPD she certainly wasn’t expecting the conversation to be a happy one.

“My phone rang…and as soon as he told me he was from TPD, my heart sank. I was like ‘oh no what’s wrong,’” said Shivanonda.

The Tucson Police Department recovered the around $20,000 smart board, officers told her. Shivanonda rounded up some staff and loaded it in her truck to bring back to the campus.

“We just thought it was gone forever. I was shocked they actually found it,” she said.

Still with its evidence tag on, and in pristine condition, it’s ready to be used—the only thing missing was an HDMI cord and one handle.

“It’s going to make a really large impact, especially with all of our students. The majority of them are very visual learners. So, it definitely helped to be able to show that big visual for the students,” said Shivanonda.

TPD said they found the item after probation officers conducted a routine check. No charges have been filed but detectives are still looking into the case. The rest of the items are still unaccounted for.

“It’s definitely a really happy, happy homecoming,” said Shivanonda.

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