Justine Betti demonstrates how she set up a sting to apparently catch a teacher stealing from students at Linden High School.
LINDEN, Calif. - The Linden High School sophomore who videotaped a teacher apparently stealing money from student backpacks said she knew she had to do something.
Justine Betti said students had noticed things missing from their backpacks in gym class all year.
She decided to hide inside a locker to see if she could find the culprit. She did not expect it to be her teacher.
"After all the kids left she stayed in there and went through people's backpacks," Justine said, adding, "I saw her take money and then I told people and nobody believed me."
Betti decided she needed proof.
"Something needed to be done. Like, that's not ok."
On Wednesday, February 13, she hid in a locker a second time, holding a phone video camera, with another camera propped up in a second locker.
"I didn't want to believe that she would do something like that because she was so nice, but then she did it," Betti said.
Both cameras show her teacher going through backpacks, with one clearly showing what appears to be money being taken from a pink backpack.
"I was like, oh my God, I can't believe I got this on video and I couldn't believe that I got it and I kept watching it over and over," she said.
Betti and several friends took the video to the principal.
"He said that he'll investigate it and he told us to delete the video but I had already sent it to my dad."
The teacher has been placed on administrative leave and both the Linden School District and the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department are investigating.
No criminal charges have yet been filed. That decision will be up to the district attorney.
Betti said the decision to turn the video in was difficult because her veteran teacher is one of the most popular at the school.
"She was so nice. Like I saw it and I would never believe it," she said.
Other students have been supportive.
"Makes you feel like your privacy was invaded, but you know, you can't help but feel bad for her, either...she was a great teacher," said Linden sophomore Kellie Martinez, who also has a class with the teacher.
Betti feels the same way.
"We feel like we did the right thing, but it's still kinda hard," she said.