POWELL, Tenn. (WATE) – Thousands of dollars-worth of donated landscaping supplies were reportedly stolen from Claxton Elementary over the weekend.
Jennifer Coleman, principal of Claxton Elementary, said the theft occurred early Friday morning, but wasn’t noticed until Monday morning when staff returned to campus.
She said the supplies stolen were donated from Home Depot on Schaad Road for the school’s beautification project.
“It’s very frustrating. We want our kids to be proud of their school campus, and so we take a lot of pride in that. We have really worked hard to make sure that this campus looks great for our students,” Coleman said.
Some of the items taken included several bags of mulch, pea gravel and piles of lumber.
Coleman said the materials were placed just outside the school building, behind a closed fence, because the inside floors were freshly waxed and needed to dry.
She said the supplies were purposefully placed in plain view of surveillance cameras.
“Security cameras are wonderful. I’m not sure how schools could operate without those. We are very thankful to have that because those will definitely give the sheriff’s department a heads-up on finding out who stole the items,” Coleman said.
Ryan Sutton, spokesperson for Anderson County schools, said the surveillance video showed the suspects scouted the area before going back to steal the items.
He said it took the suspects two hours and 45 minutes to haul the items away.
Coleman said the gates are usually closed, but over the summer they don’t lock the gates because people like to use the playgrounds and would break the locks.
During the school year, Coleman said they keep the campus extremely safe and locked.
“We run a very safe school. Whenever school begins, the doors, everything – is locked down. You do not have access to our campus without ringing the buzzer on the front door,” Coleman said.
She also said teachers carry radios to communicate with staff.
“We had a lot of big, exciting projects that we were working on. But for me, the most devastating part is that the individuals did not only steal from a school, but they stole from children,” Coleman said.
She called both the Home Depot on Schaad Road and the store in Oak Ridge to warn them in case the suspects decided to sell the stolen items.
The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident.