Preschool burglar gets three years of time-out

The office in Doodlebugs Early Learning Centre after the break-in.

A Masiphumelele man who burgled a Sun Valley preschool earlier this year was sentenced, in the Simon’s Magistrate’s Court, last week, to three years in jail.

Luthando Mpulu, 31, was found guilty of housebreaking and theft.

He broke into Doodlebugs Early Learning Centre, in Sun Valley, in March, and stole various items including office equipment, a printer, stationery, cash, and food.

Mpulu was linked to the crime by his fingerprints, according to investigating officer Detective Warrant Officer Joe Scheepers.

Stolen property had been found by a security company, and the fingerprints on those items had matched those found at the crime scene, said Detective Scheepers.

The director of Prau Security, Raven Flack, said she and another patroller had been on a routine patrol at around 2.30am on the morning of the burglary when she had noticed a printer under a tree and a bag on the pavement containing wet wipes, pencil cases, and stationery.

“He must have dropped the bag while running away and had stashed the printer under the tree to fetch it later,” she said.

Suspecting the nearby preschool had been broken into but not seeing anything out of the ordinary from the outside, she called its manager, using a number on the preschool’s signboard, and asked for permission to enter the premises.

It was then that she found the sliding door had been damaged and was open and the “place was trashed”.

A knife, suspected to have been used to force open the door, was found at the scene and a wooden box that had money in it had been forced open.

The preschool’s manager, Caile van Wyk, said she had tried to call the owner after getting the call from the security company but had been unable to reach her. She and her father had then gone to the school, and the owner’s son had later joined them.

“Every room in the school was trashed, from the kitchen to the office and even the art room. They stole stationery and all the children’s cereal,” she said.

She said they had not been “signed up” with Prau Security at the time, and she praised the company for going “above and beyond to help”.

She had been “very surprised” when Detective Scheepers had called her to say the man had been sentenced to three years in jail.

“The forensic team came out to take fingerprints, and we thought we would not hear anything else, but three years is better than nothing,” she said.

Doodlebugs Early Learning Centre was “trashed” during the break-in.