Police have arrested one of two suspects who allegedly stole a surveillance camera from a northwest Medford elementary school.
David Dewayne McDaniel, 39, has been named as one of the suspects involved in the theft of one camera at Howard Elementary School on Sunday morning, and allegedly tried to take another one nearby. The acts were recorded by the devices the suspects sought to steal, which Medford police shared on its Facebook page.
Police believe that McDaniel stole the cameras for his personal use, and did not to commit another crime at the school, according to a Medford police Facebook update. The theft happened at 6:26 a.m., according to the surveillance video's time stamp.
"Part of the concern is that it’s at a school. The cameras at the schools are there particularly for the safety of the children," said Medford police Lt. Kerry Curtis. "In the event that we have a horrific incident, those cameras give us immediate insight and access as to what might be going on on the campus."
From tips, police were able to locate McDaniel in a '90s model Nissan Maxima sedan that matches footage on the building's east side at 286 Mace Road. McDaniel allegedly walked to the camera holding a tool that looked like a pry bar while wearing a mask bearing a skeleton-print design covering the lower half of his face.
McDaniel allegedly walked out of frame, and the camera view started to slightly shudder as the suspect attempted to remove it. As that occurred, a second suspect wearing a white hooded sweatshirt and jeans walked into the frame pulling his hood tight to conceal his face. He stood nearby as the McDaniel removed the camera, and at one point looked directly into the camera lens.
The unsuccessful second attempt occurred at about 6:28 a.m., according to a video time stamp. The suspects walked up, grappled with the camera for a few seconds, then walked back to the car and drove away.
The cameras sell for about $1,200 apiece retail, according to Medford School District spokeswoman Natalie Hurd, but the district purchased them at a bulk rate of about $580.
"We find the cameras extremely valuable in keeping our kids and campuses safe. They’re very effective, not only in deterring crime but also in catching suspects," Hurd said.
Police said they will step up patrols around the school.
Anyone with additional information about the case is encouraged to call Medford police at 541-770-4783. The case number is 17-9069.
It's not yet clear exactly what charges McDaniel faces in the alleged crime, as he wasn't yet booked into the Jackson County Jail at press time. Jackson County Circuit Court records show prior felony convictions for delivering methamphetamine, tampering with a witness, unlawful use of a weapon, vehicle theft and criminal mischief.
— Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.