Hilliard police recover iPads, other devices stolen from Station Sixth Grade School

KEVIN CORVO
kcorvo@thisweeknews.com
Hilliard City Schools leaders and Hilliard Division of Police officers found several devices that had been stolen early July 17 from Hilliard Station Sixth Grade School at a northeast Columbus apartment complex by tracking them and investigating sales via social media.

The Hilliard Division of Police has recovered some of the approximately 110 Apple iPads, MacBook computers and Apple TVs stolen early July 17 from Hilliard Station Sixth Grade School. 

Hilliard City Schools leaders and police found the devices at a northeast Columbus apartment complex by tracking them and investigating sales via social media.

Three teenagers were arrested July 20 in connection with the theft and face multiple related and unrelated charges, but many of the stolen devices had already been sold in the days between the alleged theft and arrest, said police spokeswoman Andrea Litchfield.

“Some individuals have already come forward with iPads,” Litchfield said. “We are encouraging anyone who believes they purchased a stolen iPad to contact the school district.”

Anyone who returns an iPad will not face charges because the district is seeking to recover the devices, she said.

Director of communications Stacie Raterman said the district is sending text messages to the devices to inform the operator the device is stolen and the property of the district.

The devices should be returned to the district’s central offices at 2140 Atlas St. in Columbus, Raterman said.

District officials initially told police about 230 devices were stolen, but on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 22, the district accounted for some devices and now believes about 110 were stolen, Litchfield said.

“At this point we believe there are only a handful still out there,” she said.

The devices were stolen at about 5 a.m. July 17, according to the time on surveillance-camera recordings at Station, 5600 Scioto Darby Road, Litchfield said.

A glass door was broken to gain entry, she said.

The surveillance cameras showed three individuals forcing entry into the school building and walking through the halls with the devices, Litchfield said.

On July 20, Hilliard detectives and district officials determined the devices were “pinging” at an apartment complex in northeast Columbus, just south of state Route 161 and west of Interstate 270, Litchfield said.

The investigation also determined the devices were being sold via social media, she said.

“(Our) detectives knew the devices were at the apartment complex but not exactly where,” so they started watching for sales, Litchfield said. “Detectives believe more than 100 devices have been sold to others (during the weekend of July 18 and 19).”

At the apartment, Kyon Appling, 18, of Columbus was arrested and found in possession of a stolen firearm, according to Litchfield.

Appling was charged with receiving stolen property, a fourth-degree felony, and possession of a firearm under disability, a third-degree felony, she said.

A previous felony prohibits him from possessing a firearm, Litchfield said.

Appling also had an active warrant for aggravated robbery issued by the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, she said.

Appling was arraigned July 21 in Franklin County Municipal Court, posted bond and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Thursday, July 30, according to court records.

After using a search warrant at Appling’s apartment, officers found 98 iPads, one iPad mini, a MacBook computer and two Apple TVs, Litchfield said.

Two people in Appling’s northeast Columbus apartment, Zamaryanna Mattox, 19, of Columbus and a 17-year-old boy, were arrested and charged with receiving stolen property, a fourth-degree felony, and tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony.

The tampering-with-evidence charge was because some of the devices were found in water in a bathtub at the apartment, Litchfield said.

“We believe they were aware of our investigation and were trying to destroy them in order to not have their specific location disclosed,” she said.

Additional charges against the trio are possible, as well as charges against yet-to-be-identified suspects, Litchfield said.

None had been filed as of Friday, July 24, she said.

Hilliard police Chief Robert Fisher said buyers need to use common sense.

”If someone is offering to sell an iPad for far below market value, that’s a sign it’s likely stolen,” he said.

District officials thanked the police for tracking down the devices they soon will need to issue to students when classes resume Aug. 20.

“We are thankful to the Hilliard Division of Police for their great work in recovering our stolen equipment,” Deputy Superintendent Mike McDonough said. “Our technology team worked closely with officers to assist in locating the stolen devices.”

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo