OPRF swaps locks after student found with master key

Police investigating but no charges filed yet


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By Devin Rose

Staff Reporter

Oak Park and River Forest High School will transition to a new lock system for the school's gym lockers by Friday after it was discovered last week that a student was in possession of a copy of a master key that provides access to current gym locks, according to an Oct. 14 letter from school officials.

Oak Park Deputy Police Chief Anthony Ambrose said the police department was continuing to investigate Monday and could not say how many thefts had occurred or how long they had been going on.

"That's what we're trying to determine," Ambrose said, adding the department is working with the school to see how many thefts they've had and if they can be connected.

To his knowledge, no one has been charged.

According to a police summary report sent by the department Monday, an unknown person broke into a locked gym locker at the school, Oct. 7, and took a silver iPod Touch with a black screen. The loss was estimated at $300. It is unclear if this is related to the broader investigation.

A reported theft from a gym locker Thursday led to the discovery, the letter from Supt. Steven Isoye and Principal Nathaniel Rouse said. School officials have recovered the copied key and students began exchanging olds locks for new ones on Monday. By Friday, remaining blue or red locks on gym lockers will be removed. The school will provide additional security in locker room areas until the transition is complete.

Kay Foran, communications coordinator for the school, said Tuesday morning that about 2,000 locks had been replaced on the majority of the gym lockers.

All athletic department locks will also be replaced after the gym lock transition is complete.

Foran said there is nothing at this point indicating a similar issue with the lockers in the school's main hallways. She said one student so far was victimized by theft in this incident.

"We are relieved — if saddened — to discover what we believe is the cause of one aspect of a theft issue we have spent so much time and effort investigating," the letter said.

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Posted: October 20th, 2011 10:51 AM

I have to agree with OP Parent. If the school is providing the locks and preventing students from using their own locks, the school ought to take responsibility for losses if those losses are due to the locks not being secure.

Paula from Oak Park  

Posted: October 20th, 2011 7:45 AM

I doubt it's an inside job with some faculty member trying to get a cut of the merch. IMO, it would be more like apathy from the faculty. If a copy of the master key was stolen and someone knew about it and didn't take steps to rectify it then that tells me they didn't care or didn't think much of the consequences.

Sean from Oak Park  

Posted: October 18th, 2011 5:36 PM

I can't believe kids are bringing such expensive items to school. I was a student at OPRF only a decade ago and back then I would never have anything expensive, especially because someone might steal it. I always had an anti-skip CD player or MP3 CD player and my TI-83. That's not to say these kids shouldn't expect that the school would take every precaution to protect students' property, just that they aren't liable for every item stolen.

Could the students be THAT smart???  

Posted: October 18th, 2011 5:34 PM

The reimburse the students campaign is amusing. We're always talking about how bright the students are but now that it's something bad no one suspects that maybe the students were bright enough to pull this off on their own. Nope. It's no doubt the staff at the school, conspiring with students (who'd give them up in a heartbeat) to make a few bucks off stolen phones. Possible? Definitely. Blaming anybody but our precious babies...most definitely.

Not a locksmith but...  

Posted: October 18th, 2011 5:31 PM

High school issued combination locks tend to have a keyhole accessible by the school. That's why they are in the business of issuing them instead of you using your own. Just saying since people keep saying "use combination locks" as if that curtails the problem.

DickCheneyMansion from Oak Park  

Posted: October 18th, 2011 4:18 PM

The enhanced interrogation techniques should be expanded to faculty/staff with access and responsibility for the master keys. Phil of Ideas would also benefit from a waterboarding session.

Phil of Ideas  

Posted: October 18th, 2011 4:06 PM

I got my iPhone, so no jealousy. I dont want my precious tax dollars going to a second luxury item for kids. Lesson to the school - use combination locks. Lesson to the kids - keep the stuff at home.

Phil of Stupidity from Absurdistan  

Posted: October 18th, 2011 3:29 PM

@Phil: What a ridiculous sentiment. Jealous, bro?

Phil of Ideas  

Posted: October 18th, 2011 3:20 PM

Reimburse them? Really? if you can afford an iPhone or iPad, you can afford a second.

OP Parent from OAK Park  

Posted: October 18th, 2011 2:16 PM

Every victim from O.P.R.F should be reimbursed by the school, since it is their responsibility to keep those keys out of reach. maybe it was an inside job & the staff got a cut for every i-phone & i-pod that was stolen. The only thing this school cares about is them not the students.

C.M from oak park  

Posted: October 18th, 2011 2:12 PM

This is a joke to the faculty @ o.p,.r.f. They all knew there was the possibility of a master key floating around when my son was victimized twice in 6 months.This faculty DOES NOT care about these students. They are only now forced to do something about it. This isn't the 1st time this was mentioned after the senior was arrested in Oak Park with all those I-pods & I-phones. Now that they've actually been slapped in the face with it they will now change all the locks.. Reimbuse all victims oprf

OP parent  

Posted: October 18th, 2011 9:13 AM

I would like to know who were the adults who were supposed to be maintaining the security of the master key(s), what are the procedures (if any) in place to assure the security of those keys, and were those procedures (if they exist) followed? This is not just an issues of kids who did bad - this is an issue of adults who were supposed to be assuring the security of those keys.


Posted: October 18th, 2011 12:00 AM

You can go on youtube right now and find out how to make a master key. I couldnt believe it myself.

DickCheneyMansion from OakPark  

Posted: October 17th, 2011 8:20 PM

I think this situation calls for the perfectly appropriate use of enhanced interrogation techniques on all suspects. Yes, they should be waterboarded to determine who else is in possession of master keys and how they were obtained. This isn't acceptable and should be dealt with swiftly and severely.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix  

Posted: October 17th, 2011 8:08 PM

Well, I come from the era where we used combination locks, FH for Field House and OP for the main building. It's hilarious to hear people evidently left master keys lying around with signs saying: "Master Key, help yourself." Even so, in this case I think it would be prudent not to automatically rule out an inside job. You never can tell. Thanks for your insight.

Mark in Virginia  

Posted: October 17th, 2011 7:15 PM

You can say that this is an inside job, and that the student would not know about this without some help. Well, hate to break the bad news to you, but when I was a student at OPRF (1981-1985) there were many "Master" keys floating around that gained access to all lockers. It sucked, things were stolen, locks were placed in positions that did not allow them to be opened. However, the school officials would not do anything about it, and basically said the students were on their own. Thank you!

Alexandra P from Oak Park  

Posted: October 17th, 2011 6:42 PM

I hope everyone with a student at OPRF who was victimized by the PE locker room thefts reports it to the Oak Park Police Department, because I know there is more than 'one student who was victimized by theft', as stated.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix  

Posted: October 17th, 2011 6:34 PM

Assuming the brat with a copy of the master key isn't David Niven in "Pink Panther," then what we likely have here is some sort of inside job. How likely is it your average student would know of the existance of such a key, would know where the copies were located and would risk going into somebody's office and desk to filch the master, make a copy and then return it? I'd say not very likely. And what interest would an adult have in putting copies of the master key on the street?

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