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St. John’s Lutheran School targeted by thieves


Fri, Oct 25th, 2013
Posted in Wykoff Police Reports

Some time in between 9 p.m. on Monday, October 21, and 6:45 a.m. on Tuesday, October 22, someone broken into St. John’s Lutheran School in Wykoff, Minn. in an apparent effort to steal valuables. When Principal Karl Peterman arrived at the school on Tuesday morning, he found doorknobs lying on the floor in the hallways and classroom doors that were usually closed were left wide open. There was only one classroom in which the thieves were not able to enter, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

Since every classroom door was locked, based on the damage to door frames and door locks, the thieves allegedly used pry bars to enter each room. “Numerous doors to classrooms and offices were broken, along with the door knobs and locks on the doors. A locked office desk and a safe were broken into and destroyed,” shared Peterman.

As Peterman began to realize the gravity of the situation, he began calling all 35 families served by the St. John’s Lutheran School to make them aware of what happened. Following his phone calls, he sent out a group e-mail to all of the families as they decided it would be best to close the school for the day.

Among the items stolen were a 55-inch big screen TV taken from the school’s computer lab, laptop computers, a camera, a number of small iPods, some cash and credit cards. While the estimated replacement cost of items stolen is upwards of $2,500, they do not yet know the total cost of repairing the doors to the classrooms.

Since St. John’s Lutheran School is directly connected to St. John’s Lutheran Church, it appears that the thieves entered the school from the church side. There are no clear indications of how the thieves entered the building. There was no damage to the church side of the facility.

At this time, the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Department is in the process of investigating the crime. And, according to law enforcement, there may be possible links to vandalism and robberies that took place in Spring Valley during the past few weeks. Pending investigation, no further information was made available, but some suspects were identified.

While one member of St. John’s Lutheran Church recalled that the church had been broken into in the past, he didn’t share when that was or how much damage had been done.

Peterman shared, “We have talked in the past about putting cameras in our halls. I am sure that this topic will come up at the next school board meeting, and that some changes will be made. It is really sad when we have to keep people out of a church and a Christian school. Wouldn’t it be great if our church doors and Christian school doors could be open at all times, so people could come and find a quiet place to speak with God and seek His peace?”

As members and supporters of St. John’s Lutheran School and Church deal with the aftermath of the crime, they have taken a unique perspective. As people have learned of the situation, a number of people from the community have called school officials to ask whether they could help in any way. “One special call came from an individual in the community who offered help; but more importantly, he offered prayers. And he reminded me that we need to forgive the people who did this crime, just as Jesus forgave those who hurt Him. What an important reminder that was for me today. I thanked the person who reminded me,” said Peterman.

In addition, damage to doors at Immanuel Lutheran Church, which is also located in Wykoff, was discovered Wednesday. Fillmore County Sheriff Daryl Jensen reports that pry marks around Immanuel Lutheran’s doors may have been done around the same time as St. John’s School was broken into. Jenson reports that no entry was made to Immanuel Lutheran. Investigation continues in both incidences.

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