Serial Burglar Found Wandering Halls of Eastchester School

A security guard, who was on her second day at Waverly School, buzzed the intruder in and did not check his identification.

Serial Burglar Found Wandering Halls of Eastchester School

A man was found wandering the hallways of an Eastchester, New York, school Friday after a security guard let the intruder into the building.

The man, identified as 60-year-old Donald Bennett, spent seven minutes walking through the hallways of Waverly School and allegedly stole $65 and a BJ’s membership card from an unoccupied office before staff members escorted him outside, reports CBS Local. He was granted access to the school by a new security guard after he said he was waiting to see someone from maintenance.

Eastchester Police reviewed surveillance video and said they are confident Bennett did not approach any of the 460 kindergarten and first-grade students who attend the school.

“What went wrong is someone was let in the building and our school didn’t follow standard operating procedure,” said PTA co-president Natalie Vero.

An email sent to parents from Eastchester School District Superintendent Rob Glass said the security guard, who was on her second day on the job, buzzed in Bennett and allowed him to walk past her security desk without checking his ID, according to LOHUD. He then asked to use the restroom but instead turned into a vacant office where the money and card were allegedly stolen.

Bennett then went through two more vacant offices before a hall monitor stopped him and questioned why he was in the building. The hall monitor ran for assistance and the security guard and head custodian escorted him out of the building.

Vero said police weren’t contacted about the incident until an hour after the intruder was escorted out.

“There was a huge, huge failure on part of the staff and the security company. We’re praising the head custodian and the aide for getting the man off the grounds. However, we want to know why the teachers and the aide did not feel the need to call 911 immediately?” she questioned. “We should have been put in lockdown immediately and the man should have been apprehended and the police be called, not an hour later, while it was occurring.”

Glass said “detailed training” was provided to the security guard on her first day by Principal Mari Doyle. Summit Security, the contracted security company that provides security guards to the district, said the guard has been relieved of her duties and that two security guards will be stationed at the school’s entrance for the remainder of the year.

On Sunday, the PTA held a meeting with district leaders and police to discuss the incident. School started two hours late Monday so staff could review safety protocols. Eastchester police were stationed at the school throughout the day.

“We want to see it like this all the time. We’re taking the proper baby steps but more has to be done. It’s day one; everything is going to be top-notch, but we want to see this in June and on Sept. 8 when school starts,” Vero said. “We’re here to be the voice of the parents of the community: we want safety and we want accountability.”

Police also believe Bennett tried to access two schools in Bronxville earlier in the day where he claimed to have been at the two schools for employment purposes but was stopped by staff members at the entrances of both schools, according to LOHUD.

Bennett has a history of school burglaries dating back 20 years and served time in prison. In 1999, he admitted to entering several schools in New Rochelle and was sentenced to 2 1/2 to 5 years in prison. In 2009, he was accused of several burglaries in Westchester, including an elementary school, and was sentenced to four years in prison.

About the Author

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Amy is Campus Safety’s Senior Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy’s mother, brother, sister-in-law and a handful of cousins are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

In her free time, Amy enjoys exploring the outdoors with her husband, her son and her dog.

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