VALE, Ore. -- After nearly two weeks of trying to solve a crime on their own, the Malheur County Sheriff's Office is now looking to the public for help.
Sometime during the night of June 16, or in the early morning hours of June 17, someone broke into the Malheur Education Service District (ESD) building in Vale, and stole thousands of dollars worth of equipment.
At this point we're not completely sure how they gained access to the building, said Malheur County Undersheriff Travis Johnson.
Superintendent of the District, Stephen Phillips, says he doesn't think the person that did this is an employee, but he does believe it's someone that had knowledge of the building and the items.
Here's what detectives know: Someone got into the ESD building and stole 14 new laptops, which were set to go to a construction technology class at Vale High School.
They also stole a small safe containing checks to four districts, Walmart credit cards and a gift card to Staples.
Johnson says the value is easily over $5,000.
Through their investigation they found out that a man, not yet identified, used one of the Walmart credit cards to buy a camera and a printer at a Nampa Walmart. Thirty minutes later, he was at the Ontario Walmart trying to use another credit card.
Within that timeframe the ESD was able to get the card cancelled, realize what had happened and cancelled their credit cards, said Johnson.
However, the district's work wasn't done, the Phillips says they had to spend 60 to 70 man hours cancelling the checks and setting up new accounts for the four districts it helps. All of that time at the expense of taxpayers.
Rather than being over several schools, the Malheur ESD helps other districts to make sure it has everything it needs, like handling their finances. That's why it had checks for the other districts.
It's always a little disheartening to see someone that's willing to steal from our school district and affect our kids like it does, said Johnson.
Now the Sheriff s Office is using social media and traditional media to close this case.
I'm pretty confident. We've got a great detective working on this case. I'm confident in his skills and his ability, I'm confident in the public and their ability to track this guy down that we'll find justice in this case, said Johnson.
If the Sheriff's Office is not able to recover those laptops, Malheur ESD says that it's insurance should be able to cover it, and that way the students over at Vale High School will have the technology they need.
If you have any information on this case contact the Malheur County Sheriff's Office at 541-473-5126.