JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Security camera video at Strive for Excellence Learning Academy Monday morning shows a man breaking into the day care.
The day care’s owner believes the man got in through the gate and was trying to steal playground equipment.
We blurred the video because right now he isn’t charged with any crime.
Camera footage shows the suspect in the corner of the property taking a piece of playground equipment and trying to lift it over the fence.
Then he takes off his clothes, touching the same surfaces where kids paint and play.
“I just couldn’t believe that someone would actually come onto a playground property and vandalize, and try and steal, and then also expose themselves at the same time,” Strive for Excellence Learning Academy owner Janell Thomas said.
The time stamp on the video shows the suspect on the property around 7:15 a.m. The day care opens at 7.
Thomas said the only reason kids didn’t see anything is because the day care was closed for Columbus Day, and she’s thankful for that.
This isn’t the first time her business has been burglarized. In May, Thomas said, several items were stolen out of her shed.
She didn’t catch it on video, but she showed us pictures of the damage.
“I feel violated in a way because this is a personal area where the kids come out and they learn,” Thomas said.
Thomas filed two reports with JSO.
She said she recognized the man in Monday’s video and JSO questioned him.
She said deputies told her the man has mental issues and did not charge him.
“They spoke with him about not returning to the property but at the same time as a business owner, I’m out of damages that have been done to the property,” Thomas said.
Thomas said she is compassionate toward mental health but thinks someone should be held accountable.
Our law and safety expert Dale Carson said the suspect’s alleged disability will come into play regarding potential charges.
“We don’t want to be arresting someone who struggles to know the difference between right and wrong,” Carson said.
Carson has years of experience in law enforcement, including time with the FBI.
In the meantime, Thomas is spending more money trying to secure her business with a new gating system.
“I feel he is a threat to the community because he’s not receiving services that he needs to receive,” Thomas said.
She’s trying to protect not only her property but also the children she is responsible for.
We reached out to JSO and asked if they were pursuing charges against the suspect.
They only confirmed the investigator spoke with both parties, and said the case is still under investigation.
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