DENVER (CBS4) – A woman suspected of stealing from Denver Public Schools has been arrested in a case that has many parents concerned.
Denver police on Wednesday announced the arrest of Winter Yates, 34. She is accused of walking into at least four Denver schools over the past six months and pretending to be a parent. She then allegedly stole wallets, purses and other valuables from empty classrooms.
The schools where confirmed thefts happened include Carson Elementary, Cole Arts and Science Academy and Bromwell Elementary.
“It’s a lot of activity in a short amount of time,” said Steve Heim, a parent of a Bromwell student. “I’m glad she’s off the streets.”
Authorities so far aren’t saying how or where Yates was arrested but they said it took place on Sunday. Yates has an extensive criminal record that includes several previous arrests on charges that include theft, drugs and resisting arrest.
“We definitely wanted to get her off the streets. That’s definitely. Especially going into schools — that’s something we are always very cautious of,” said Denver police spokeswoman Raquel Lopez.
Police say Yates used a stolen credit card in May to charge several hundred dollars worth of items at a Target store. Surveillance video from the store shows a woman police say is Yates walking out of the store with the merchandise.
Parents at several of the schools where the thefts happened now want to know how the suspect got inside the buildings without being noticed.
“You wonder how someone like that is able to get in and walk around,” said Leo Shkolnik, another parent at Bromwell.
Bromwell’s doors lead to an open area where parents have to sign in. Teachers say that at 3:15 p.m. when the students are dismissed, Yates apparently slipped in during the busy activity.
“It’s very scary to think that that could happen that easily here, with all the precautions that we try to make on a daily basis to keep our kids safe,” Heim said.
Yates was scheduled to make an appearance in Denver city court on Thursday.
District officials so far haven’t commented on the case.