Burglars steal from robotics club in Clinton

Burglars stole about $3,000 worth of equipment from South Whidbey children who build underwater robots.

Ashley McConnaughey, a mentor for the South Whidbey underwater robotics club, said she was shocked when she arrived at the club’s space in the basement of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Clinton Wednesday morning to discover a break-in.

Two dozen students, ages 6 to 12, had to be turned away as they arrived to work on their robots that morning so that deputies could investigate. The club members are getting prepared for an underwater robot competition in May.

Burglars with muddy feet got away with the club’s 52-inch TV, a 47-inch TV, two laptops, tools and other items.

“We’re still trying to figure out everything they stole,” she said. “We’re shell-shocked.”

McConnaughey said the large TVs were vital equipment for the program. They are used to display live feeds of the remotely operated underwater vehicles, or ROVs, as they go about their business. They also were used at the fair as part of the club’s educational exhibit.

Everything the club has, and everything that was stolen, was donated. St. Peter’s donates the space to the club and all the adults involved are volunteers.

“They really stole from the community,” she said.

McConnaughey said the burglary was disheartening, but it won’t deter the club members.

“Engineering is all about working through failure and working through adversity and this is just one of those times.”

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