FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (DC News Now) — Detectives said they put an end to an operation involving at least three people who helped steal laptops from Fairfax County Public Schools over the course of nearly two years.
The Fairfax County Police Department said it believes those people stole as many as 35,000 laptops worth more than $2 million during that time.
The police department said members of its Major Crimes Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division found out in March that several thousand school division laptops seemed to have been reallocated illegally.
Police said the computers, which were in a warehouse in the 6800 block of Industrial Rd. in Springfield, were supposed to be auctioned. Detectives found that a box truck registered to Attyah Computer Recycling in Ashburn showed up a number of times at the warehouse. They said the driver of the truck didn’t get out of the truck or provide the necessary paperwork required to receive auctioned goods. They added that laptops and computer parts were put into the truck and the driver left with them. Detectives said two warehouse employees were involved in what took place.
On July 14, detectives said they were conducting surveillance at the warehouse and saw the truck arrive. They stopped the truck and found stolen laptops inside it.
Detectives arrested the driver, Fadi Atiyeh, 36, of Centreville. He faces charges of Receiving Stolen Property and Larceny with the Intent to Distribute. Detectives said Atiyeh was an employee of Attyah Computer Recycling. They executed a search warrant at the business in Ashburn and found additional evidence.
Also on July 14, detectives arrested two warehouse employees, Franque Minor II, 35, of Maryland and Mario Jones Jr., 21, of Woodbridge. Minor and Jones face charges of Embezzlement and Larceny with the Intent to Distribute.
Capt. Frederick Chambers: “There is some relationship between the two [groups] but we’re still investigating to see, what the status of that relationship is, how far it goes, and as well as, is anyone else involved in this investigation,” Capt. Frederick Chambers, with the Major Crimes Bureau, Criminal Investigations Division with the Fairfax County Police.
In addition to working at the warehouse, detectives said Minor and Jones were Fairfax County Public Schools employees.
Chambers said that the investigation informed police that the hard drives were removed prior to them being stolen.
“Hopefully any information was removed from the laptop and it’s just a shell,” Chambers said.
DC News Now asked to confirm that there is no risk of potential school or student information remaining on the laptops.
“Yes sir,” Chambers said. “That is my understanding.”
We asked the school division for a comment after the arrests of Minor and Jones, for more information about the laptops, themselves, what auditing systems were in place to track equipment, and if the division was taking any steps in light of the situation.
Julie Moult, Media Relations Manager with Fairfax County Public Schools, said that because of the police investigation, the school division was unable to comment further. She referred any questions to police.
Detectives asked anyone who has information about the operation is asked to call them at (703) 256-8035 or submit tips anonymously by calling Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS (1-866-411-8477). You also can contact Crime Solvers online. Anonymous tipsters could receive cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars.