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School fights burglars

EMMA WHITTAKER
Last updated 05:00 12/02/2014
Te Papapa School

WIT'S END : Te Papapa School principal Robyn Curry and students Sophie Tiatia, left, Hazelle Arerangi and Sonswana Garham hope the constant burglaries at the school stop.

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PLease leave us alone.

That's the message to thieves from staff at central Auckland's most burgled primary school.

The decile one Te Papapa School has been broken into 12 times in two years and was hit three times over the Christmas holidays.

Thieves took the caretaker's tools, which had just been replaced after a previous break-in, and some sports gear on Boxing Day.

Then in the early hours of January 26 the administration computer was taken from the front desk and the principal's office vandalised.

"They threw open the cupboards and draws and broke the door - just trashed it," principal Robyn Curry says.

Nearby Oranga School was broken into on the same night, with sports equipment and a television taken.

Te Papapa lost its remaining administration computer and a new plasma TV from the library in its most recent break-in on February 4.

"There was no mess, it was a clean job.

"It's like they knew what they were coming for," Mrs Curry says.

The three school holiday break-ins alone have cost the school at least $10,000, she says.

"We're a low decile school and we are really trying to provide equity for our kids.

"When people take this stuff they may not realise that a lot of the cost falls with the schools."

The break-ins have made the school nervous about investing in new IT equipment in the future.

"As soon as the thieves find out we've got it we're doomed," Mrs Curry says.

"For some reason we're being targeted. Our kids may need these things most. A lot don't have a computer at home."

Te Papapa and Oranga schools have upped security and are looking at more intensive measures.

Both will need to fund developments out of their existing budgets and that means more financial strain.

Te Papapa School is a stand-out case since property crime at schools, including burglaries, is decreasing in the Auckland City Police District, school community services Sergeant Deane McEntee says.

"For a small school it is way out of proportion for being targeted.

"They've got a lot of issues to deal with and they don't need to come to school on a Monday and find it has been ransacked."

The break-ins have similarities and police think the same people are responsible for at least half of them.

Mr McEntee asks anyone with information to come forward.

A lot of the break-ins happen late at night and on weekends so neighbours are being asked to keep an eye out for anything suspicious.

"The school is like a hub of the community. When your hub is being targeted I would like to think the whole community feels threatened," Mr McEntee says.

Contact police on 302 6400 and ask for the Auckland police file management centre, or email auckland.fmc.police.govt.nz with information. Or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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