Closed Detroit schools open to thieves

(WXYZ) - While dozens of Detroit Public Schools have been closed to students , they are sitting open to thieves. 

Action News visited every vacant school and discovered the scope of the problem shocking.  We're not turning our back on the problem.  We went to the top to find out what is the plan for the buildings.

Former students can only stand by and watch as their school, the place they created so many memories, falls into a state of disaster at the hand of thieves.

Sandra Richie attended Chandler Elementary on Detroit's East Side and still lives nearby.  "They should have locked this building up better than it was, or sold it to somebody." said Richie

Countless neighbors tell Action News, when they spotted scrappers stealing the pipes, the fixtures and the windows, they tried calling for help but little was done to stop the thieves.

Action News visited every single school that has been closed in Detroit--more than 80.  What we found goes beyond shocking, it's negligent.  On the east side, 33 schools have been closed.  Twenty-two of them have been hit by scrappers or cracked open.  It's been an on-going problem with little action taken to stop it. 

We took our questions to the man in charge of the Detroit Public School district, Emergency Manager Jack Martin.

"I've gone out and looked at those schools." said Martin.  "I looked at what they were before we closed them and within four to six weeks they were very trashed.  It's a huge problem."

When asked why something wasn't done sooner to secure the building, Martin tells Action News he can't answer for previous administrations, but lack of resources has been an on-going issue. 

The district is trying to recoup some of your tax dollars by putting the vacant structures up for sale.  Until they are sold, Martin says the district is considering working with cement companies and through a summer program, using students to cement the first floor of the schools buildings to keep the scrappers out.

Some nearby residents tell us they think the cement will only add to the blight in their neighborhood.

Detroit Public Schools has it's own police force and Martin says they are going after scrappers.  Eighty-three people have been arrested in the past six months.


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