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Middle school burglars caught on tape

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River Falls, 54022

River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Motion-activated surveillance cameras caught the hour-long escapade of two burglars who broke into the Hudson Middle School last Thursday.

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According to the police report, Donald P. Jones Jr., 18, 2512 Burl Oak Curve, and Joseph M. Ramsay, 20, who has no permanent address, got into the school by pushing on an unlatched window in a conference room. The two had cut through several screens at Hudson Prairie Elementary School, which is adjacent to the middle school, but those windows were locked.

Once inside, the men's movements were tracked by cameras mounted throughout the building. Fortunately, the pair did not vandalize the school but focused on a classroom where food and funds for a student-run snack bar are located. They ate some of the food, threw some pepperoni slices around the room and broke into the cabinet where the cash box was stored. One of the cameras caught the burglars dividing approximately $40 in cash between them.

Jones and Ramsay also took some change from the staff lounge and went through the freezers at both schools, leaving some ice cream out on a table.

Associate Principal Jim Dalluhn monitors the school surveillance camera system and was able to put together a timeline and a map of the burglars' activity for police.

According to school Principal Dan Koch, the two entered the school at 1:55 a.m. and left at 2:59 a.m. Koch said neither of the two suspects was familiar to anyone on his staff but they appeared to be of high school age. Koch said Hudson High School Associate Principal Denny Toll happened to be in the school taking a class at the time they were looking at the surveillance tapes.

"We asked him to take a look, and he immediately recognized one of them," said Koch. The identification was confirmed by School/Police Liaison Officer Mark Crimmins.

Koch said that while the burglary was alarming, he was grateful that the two suspects did not do any extensive damage inside either school.

"This could have been much worse. Once (vandals are) inside, the school is vulnerable and the damage could have been extensive. But the cameras did what they were supposed to and certainly told the story. It was clear they were not aware that there is surveillance throughout the building."

The two men are facing charges of burglary, criminal damage to property, criminal trespass and petty theft.

Meg Heaton can be reached at mheaton@rivertowns.net.

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