Frederick R. Brooking, Attorney at Law, for claimant.
Robert D. Pollitt, Senior Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.

Claimant seeks $11,467.99 for damage to its 1985 Dodge truck and for
tools in the truck at
the time of the incident which were never recovered. Claimant's truck
was stolen on April 29,
1987, by three juveniles housed at the Salem Industrial School, a
facility of the respondent.

Claimant alleges negligence on the part of respondent for failing to
properly secure the juveniles
at the Salem Industrial School. Claimant contends that unusual
circumstances during that evening
should negate the fact that the key was in the ignition of claimant's
truck at the time of the theft.

At some time after midnight, one of the three juveniles involved in this
incident requested a glass
of water from correctional officer, Frank DeMicco, who was in charge of
the juveniles housed in
Jones Hall, a dormitory at Salem Industrial School. When the officer
returned with the water,
one of the juveniles struck Mr. DeMicco and took his keys. The juveniles
then escaped from
Jones Hall and the complex. They proceeded to claimant's parking lot
where they stole the
truck. The parking lot is located behind claimant's office buildings
;and is surrounded by a fence
which is approximately eight to ten feet in height and is topped with
barbed wire. The stolen truck
was parked approximately 30-40 feet from the main gate which was
unlocked at the time of the

Michael Conley, District Superintendent of Salem District for claimant,
testified that April 28
and April 29, 1986, were unusual as a brush fire had occurred in the
Coal Water area. Several
of claimant's employees were dispatched to protect claimant's gas pipe
lines in that area. There
were several employees going to and from the scene of the fire on the
night of the incident. He
stated that it is company policy for employees to park a vehicle, leave
the key in the ignition or
ashtray of the vehicle, and lock the gate to the parking lot.

It is clear from the record that negligence, if any, on the part of the
respondent was not the
proximate cause of the damages suffered by the claimant. Claimant was
negligent in leaving the
keys in the parked truck and in leaving the gate to the parking lot
unlocked. This negligence was
the proximate cause of the theft and any subsequent damage to the
vehicle and the loss of the
tools. Edens vs. Dept. of Health, 15 Ct.Cl. 166 (1984); Lepara vs. Dept.
of Corrections,
13 Ct.Cl. 49 (1979). Accordingly, the Court is of the opinion to and
does deny the claim.

Claim disallowed