Custodian Arrested For Theft Of School Equipment

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Payson Police arrested Michael John Jones, 32, a custodian at Julia Randall Elementary School, for allegedly stealing equipment and property from the school and selling it.

Jones was arrested and booked into the Gila County Jail in Payson on Aug. 21 on one count of theft, and two counts of trafficking in stolen property.

Police said Jones had stolen equipment from the school throughout the summer months and had been selling it to pawn shops and local individuals.

Payson Police Detective Les Barr said that staff at Julia Randall alerted them at the beginning of the school year that several things had been discovered missing.

"On, I believe, Aug. 14, we received a call of a burglary at the school," Barr said. "After looking the scene over, it was apparent that it was a false report by Jones to try and cover up his theft of several of the school items."

He said Jones quit working at the school the next day and that is when police set up a surveillance operation to try and gather evidence against him.

Putting together a solid case against Jones was not easy, Barr said.

"It took a while to gather enough evidence to arrest Jones," he said. "He was planning to move to Winslow, so when we made a traffic stop on him and found he had a suspended license, we searched his vehicle and found several of the items missing from Julia Randall Elementary School in his car and were able to make the arrest."

Police are asking anyone who may have purchased anything from Jones during the past few months to contact Barr at Payson Police.

Equipment could include electronic components, computer equipment and musical instruments or equipment. To report property purchased from Jones, contact Detective Barr with Payson Police at 928-474-5177.

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