A weekend burglary at a service station that serves as a training ground for students at St. Paul's Central High netted the thieves a little cash, a lot of tools — and a car owned by Principal Mary Mackbee.
Fortunately for Mackbee, she has other cars she can drive, and the Toyota Camry that was stolen — and has yet to be recovered — was nearly 20 years old.
"The tools are our biggest loss," she said in an interview Monday.
According to police, Central High automotive instructor Matt Lijewski arrived at the Selby Avenue station a week ago Sunday morning to find a garage door open. Mackbee's car, which had been in one of the bays, was gone, as was $2,000 in cash and $30,000 worth of tools, police spokesman Sgt. Mike Ernster said.
There was no sign of forced entry in the incident, which occurred between noon on March 11 and 9:25 a.m. on March 12.
The service station, which is owned by St. Paul Public Schools, is about two blocks from Central High and has been a "community point of pride" for decades, Mackbee said. Students work there on weekdays, rotating tires and fixing brakes, among other repairs, in turn sparing many neighborhood residents the higher costs they might be charged elsewhere, she said.
Mackbee took her Camry there because it had a leaky transmission. But she is no stranger to the place. Left behind in the burglary was a check she had written for repairs to another of her vehicles: a Hyundai Elantra.
Police had no information on suspects, Ernster said.
Mackbee said she is hopeful a witness will contact police. Or, she said, the tools could surface at pawnshops, although that hasn't happened yet.
She added there has been talk of a GoFundMe campaign to replace the tools — $20,000 of which belonged to Lijewski — but that the school's parent advisory council probably will put out a call for donations instead.
Anyone with tools they'd like to contribute can contact Mackbee at Central High at 651-744-4900.
Anthony Lonetree • 612-673-4109