On the evening of Thursday, September 25th, one of Sequoyah’s field studies vans, known as “Van Wilder,” was found missing from the school parking lot. Facilities employee Rudy Lara discovered the theft while checking the vans for an upcoming Junior High field trip. Van Wilder was one of the older school vans but was nevertheless in good working condition. The school filed a police report.
After the van was stolen, Director of Operations Sal Lagunas went with Lara to look at the security cameras, but when he got there they were not working. About a week before, the low-voltage technician came to “fix” a hard drive on the dedicated security camera computer. The computer would have been able to show the school who stole the van.
There were no other signs of security breaches anywhere else on campus, though the exit side of the parking lot showed signs of the van’s forcible exit. The yellow cement pole holding up the chain barrier was scraped, some of the plants were trampled, and the gravel looks balded in some areas, as if scraped off by tires. Evidently, Lagunas speculated, the van had to go around the chain blocking the driveway, since the exit was closed.
After four or five days of calling and emailing the police, Sequoyah’s Operations department received a letter from the police informing the school that the van had been found about an hour away. It also said that Sequoyah had to go to the police department to sign a release warrant, and then go to the impound lot where the van was being held. Belongings inside the van made it clear that whoever stole the van was camping out there. Lagunas noticed that the police did try to remove fingerprints because there was white powder on some areas. Once the school recovered the van, the first thing Sequoyah School noticed was that there were no seats in the van, except the back row. There were clothes, food, cigarettes, various drugs, and alcohol bottles all over living setup that was made in the back of the van. Lagunas believes that the seats were sold for money or scrap metal.
Rather than restoring the van to its previous role, operations may simply remove the remaining seats and convert the van into a cargo van for school camping trips.