A Code Red alert put two South Surrey elementary schools into lockdown Thursday afternoon, after police were called to an interrupted break-and-enter in the Morgan Creek area.
School district spokesman Doug Strachan confirmed shortly before students were to be let out for the day that a police request prompted the alert at Rosemary Heights and Morgan elementaries around 2 p.m., “because of something they’re investigating in the neighbourhood.”
Students were told to sit under their desks and keep clear of classroom windows, after patrol cars and an RCMP helicopter were tasked to the area when a resident reported arriving home to find three unknown individuals leaving his house.
The homeowner and a neighbour attempted to chase down the trio, but were unsuccessful.
A police spokesperson told Peace Arch News that officers looking for the three individuals set up a perimeter in the area and brought in a dog team to help with the search.
A rented cube van believed to be associated with the crime was stopped by police one block east of Rosemary Heights Elementary – at 36 Avenue and 156 Street – containing what appeared to be stolen property; a woman could be seen in the back of a police car as children walked past on their way home.
The dog team located a second suspect near 160 Street and 40 Avenue.
Strachan emphasized the incident posed no threat to the schools’ students or staff.
The schools’ Code Red alert issued was quickly downgraded to a Code Yellow and then a Code Green, lasting for about 30 minutes in total.
A Code Red is typically called in response to a perceived life-threatening situation. Students are kept silent inside their classrooms and instructed to stay down and away from windows or doors.
A Code Yellow alert indicates a danger has been identified outside. Students remain in their classrooms; doors to the building may be locked.
Code Green indicates any threat has abated.
Police say Thursday’s alerts were mainly a precaution. Strachan said police consideration of students’ safety during such operations is “always appreciated.”
Two Surrey residents – a woman, 40, and a man, 42 – were arrested in connection with the break-in. Charges including possession of stolen property, break-and-enter and robbery are anticipated.
One suspect is still at large.