Clovis parents paid promptly for thefts
Hobbs Municipal Schools made prompt payments to the parents of Clovis football players after the players’ belongings were stolen from a locker room at Hobbs High School late last month, say HMS officials.
HMS superintendent TJ Parks said he authorized the payments from the school district’s central office fund so that the visiting Wildcats would not have to await the outcome of the locker room theft investigation while their belongings remain missing.
“We asked Clovis to get with each of the parents and ask for the value of the items that were taken and then we took them at their word and reimbursed them for what their loss was,” Parks told the Hobbs News-Sun Monday. “It was around $4,500, but I don’t know the exact figure.”
Nine Clovis players reported personal items stolen from the visitor’s locker room at Hobbs High School after the Oct. 25 junior varsity game against Hobbs at Watson Memorial Stadium, according to a Hobbs Police Department incident report HPD initially declined to disclose but later released after a public records request from the News-Sun. Items reported stolen included cellphones, electronic devices and a wallet containing $300 in cash.
“We absolutely regret that this happened,” Parks said. “We will do everything that we possibly can to find the culprits and punish them accordingly.”
The total reported value for the items in the police report was $4,660. None of the stolen property was recovered, the police report said.
Kerri Gray, the school district’s director of finance, said 11 checks, totaling $4,810, were written on Oct. 30 and sent to the parents of the Clovis players via next-day courier.
“We tried to get it done as quickly as possible,” Gray said.
The checks were drawn on the central office fund, which Gray said would be reimbursed if restitution is granted by a court.
Five Hobbs police officers responded to the reported thefts the night of Oct. 25 and, according to the police report, one Hobbs varsity football player, two former players for the Hobbs junior varsity football team and a fourth boy were identified by police as suspects.
The Hobbs varsity player identified as one of the four suspects is a junior player for the Hobbs varsity team, which had its season come to an end Friday night with a 28-14 home playoff loss to Eldorado. He was reportedly suspended from the varsity team for one week and did not play in a game against Mayfield High School. One week later, he was back on the Hobbs varsity team.
Parks said he could not confirm the player had been suspended in connection to the locker room thefts.
“As bad as it was, we certainly don’t want to condemn or punish a kid who did not commit the crime, just because they were allegedly in there,” Parks said. “So, we have to be careful. We’re dealing with young kids.”
Police said Hobbs High School principal Zeke Kaney reviewed school surveillance video and observed the four boys entering the locker rooms after the Clovis football team took the field.
“The four male subjects were the only ones to enter or exit the locker room during the football game,” states the Hobbs police report. “Several of the Hobbs School Staff was able to identify the four subjects …”
Police identified the four boys in the police report.
Police said Detective Mark Munro was notified, responded to the scene, and conducted interviews with all the suspects.
Parks said he did not want to create any bad blood with Clovis, nor for its players to be without their personal belongings while the investigation continues.
“We’ve got a long-standing tradition with Clovis,” Parks said. “It’s a great rivalry. We have a lot of respect for their community and their staff. It’s unfortunate that that incident happened and I did not want to create any ill will between the two communities, I didn’t want to wait. If we are able to get restitution from whoever committed the crime, then we’re going to do that, but they can repay us. But I did not want those parents and students to be out because some it were cellphones, some of it were personal items that I just did not want them to be out of pocket while it was being investigated. So that was the reason that I made the decision that we would pay them upfront.
“So we’re trying to proactive in that.”