Paw Paw Schools freezers hit by thieves

by Kate Evans

Two men are accused of breaking into two walk-in food storage units at Paw Paw Schools and stealing a considerable amount of food following an early morning food delivery last Thursday, April 11.

The Morgan County Sheriff’s Department received a report that morning that someone had broken into the Paw Paw Schools outside freezer door at 60 Pirate Circle. The cook arrived at 5:45 a.m. and saw two subjects dressed in black running from the area before the break-in was discovered.

Morgan County Sheriff’s Department Chief John Walter and Deputy Luke Shambaugh responded to the scene to investigate.

Officers found pizza and other food in the school’s parking lot, playground and in the town park next door.

Much of the food had just been brought in an early morning food delivery to the school, according to court records. Over $1,000 worth of food was reported stolen from the freezer unit.

Because many of the food boxes were tipped over, and it was unclear if any other food was tampered with, school officials discarded the other food in the units, resulting in additional losses to the school system.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Morgan County Magistrate Court, Sheriff K.C. Bohrer later received information that a juvenile had been posting photos of himself sitting on top of the school on social media from the night before.

Chief Walter and Deputy Shambaugh investigated that lead and several others in the Paw Paw area. On Friday, Deputy Shambaugh arrested David A. Matthews, 22, of Winchester Street in Paw Paw.

A 17 year old juvenile was also involved in the incident and could face court action. That youth was interviewed by police and cooperated in the investigation.

Damage to the teen’s clothing and scratches on his back indicated to police that he and Matthews had pulled fencing from around the walk-in units and got under it to break into the food areas.

Police found damage on padlocks on both units, and recovered a flat head screw driver from the school grounds.

Police located some of the food stolen from the school storage units at several apartments in Paw Paw.

Paw Paw Police assisted Morgan County Sheriff’s Department Officers with the investigation and location of the subjects involved.

Morgan County Schools Superintendent Dr. Erich May said that they were grateful for the quick response of local law enforcement and apprehension of the suspects, which serves as a deterrent to similar behavior in the future.

May said that $1,000 in food was stolen and another $2,000 worth of food was discarded. The school system also had to pay $100 for the early emptying of their dumpster to dispose of the food and get a replacement handle for the walk-in freezer.

Breakfast for students that day was served from the coolers with food that was on hand. Lunch was modified and its menu changed with food brought in from central storage, May said.

Matthews was released on a $10,000 bail and faces felony breaking and entering charges.