By Barett Poley – March 24, 2017
Saint Paul, Minnesota: A Saint Paul Autobody and Mechanical program run for high-schoolers has been burglarized, leaving the program without $30,000 worth of tools that had been locked up safely in the garage the night before, alongside a Toyota Camry which belonged to the school’s principle. ‘Central Service Station’, the garage which was broken into, served as an entry-way for young people into the autobody or mechanical trades, and youths in the program spent their time learning how to fix cars and do collision repair. The industry is experiencing quite a lull in young workers, so something such as this, which dissuades young potential techs from going into the field, is incedibly unsettling.
The most heinous part of this crime isn’t that the tools were stolen – it’s that an investment in the adults of tomorrow was stolen. When money goes into the education system, it’s an investment for a better world in the future, and it’s also an investment in the future of the youths taking the program. Many people would be left without viable career choices in their future without skilled trades and co-op programs, beginning in high school. In fact, thanks to low funding for the school, the teacher, Matt Lijewski had tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of his own tools stolen.
The School’s Principle, Mary Mackbee, says that she’s not so worried about the car that’s been stolen – the biggest loss is the tools. In an interview with Star Tribune, Mackbee says “Students work there on weekdays, rotating tires and fixing brakes, among other repairs, in turn sparing many neighborhood residents the higher costs they might be charged elsewhere.” Adding, “The tools are our biggest loss.”
What’s stranger still about this heinous crime is that there was no sign of forced-entry in the burglary. The Garage does have an electronic security system to lock doors, but the security system was somehow bypassed or disabled.
Mackbee says that the school’s parent advisory council will be putting together a call for donations to replace the tools, 20,000$ of which belonged to Lijewski personally. Additionally, a GoFundMe page can be found by searching “Central Service Station Funds” from GoFundMe’s homepage.
Anyone with tools they'd like to contribute can contact Mackbee at Central High at 651-744-4900.