Suspect in East Palo Alto school heist pleads not guilty 

Several drops of blood led to an arrest in one of several costly burglaries at cash-strapped Peninsula schools last year.

Keith Laroy Dees Jr., 20, was taken into custody Sunday on charges of burglary and grand theft in connection with a heist at James Flood School a day before Christmas.

The East Palo Alto elementary school is part of the Ravenswood School District, which last year dealt with a rash of burglaries that caused tens of thousands of dollars in losses.

While being hit by burglaries, the school district was enduring a “disastrous” budget crisis, which was partly helped with the passage of a parcel tax.

Dees is the first person to face charges in the school district thefts, Assistant District Attorney Morley Pitt said Wednesday.

Police investigators said they found Dees’ blood at the crime scene at James Flood School. Staffers told cops that sometime between Dec. 23 and Dec. 24, a window was shattered, classroom doors were pried open and two projectors valued at $500 apiece were stolen. A backpack was also lifted during the heist, police said.

The blood samples were submitted to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office crime lab, which made the link to Dees.

Dees pleaded not guilty to the theft charges Tuesday. His bail was set at $25,000, and he remains in custody, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said Wednesday.

The case was set for preliminary hearing on May 31.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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