New Smyrna Beach High School coach stole money from student wallets, cops say

Investigators used special ultraviolet powder on a planted wallet


NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – A New Smyrna Beach High School coach was arrested on Monday after deputies say he was stealing money from students' wallets.

Rodney Barnes, 43, a physical education teacher and assistant varsity football coach, has been charged with felony burglary and grand theft after a sting operation.

Deputies said more than $950 and a total of nine victims have been identified in the thefts in the boys' locker room over the last few months.

"Operation Sticky Fingers" was brought on by Volusia County deputies after suspicions of a coach being involved in the thefts. In the investigation, deputies used a special powder that's invisible to the eyes. They coated several bills with the powder then left the money in a wallet in a student's locker. When the money disappeared, deputies and school administrators used a special ultraviolet light and found the powder glowing on Barnes' hands. 

Barnes admitted to taking a $50 bill from the student's wallet. He also admitted to several other thefts totaling $170. However, deputies are continuing to investigate more thefts than the ones to which Barnes initially admitted.

Barnes told WKMG-TV, "I made a mistake," and said even if he were allowed back to the school, he would not go because he realizes staff and students have lost respect for him.

He was booked into the Volusia County jail on $3,000 bond but was able to post bail and walk out late Tuesday night.

Volusia County school officials said Barnes is not able to return the school "until he has met with the Professional Standards office and disciplinary action has been determined."