Five Missouri high school students arrested after $30K theft

Friday, September 18, 2009 | 12:27 p.m. CDT

NEOSHO — Five students at a southwest Missouri high school are facing burglary-related charges after some were allegedly seen around school showing off big wads of money.

Three 17-year-olds and two 16-year-olds at Neosho High School were arrested Thursday after a rural Neosho man told police someone stole $30,000 from his home earlier in the week.

"There was one student who was flashing around $2,600 cash," Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland told the Joplin Globe.

He said another student brought about $10,000 to school, some of it stuffed in his pants pockets and the rest stashed in his locker.

"I don't know if money was falling out of his pockets, but they were bulging with cash, and (the students) were bragging about it," Copeland told The Associated Press on Friday.

One of the students, a 17-year-old, is accused of going into the victim's home Tuesday and stealing a safe that contained $30,000, then giving some of the money to the other four students. He is charged with a Class B misdemeanor and felony burglary.

The other two 17-year-olds were charged with receiving stolen property, a felony, while the 16-year-olds were taken into custody by juvenile authorities.

Copeland said it appears the son of the burglary victim had hosted a party at the home, and that's how the students knew the safe was there.

"Overall I think we're looking at a group of probably good kids who definitely made some bad decisions," the sheriff said, noting that the students are cooperating with the investigation. "They broke the law. They stole money."

He said $27,000 in cash and a number of "high ticket" items, including two laptop computers, have been recovered.

Neosho School District Superintendent Richard Page said any student who is charged with burglary is automatically suspended from school for 10 days under the state's Safe Schools Act.


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