Thieves and vandals target schools

Palmerston North schools have been targeted by troublemakers during the holiday period, with police investigating a string of vandalism acts and a burglary during the summer break.

Police are seeking information from the public after a large television was taken from Central Normal School on Sunday evening. 

A classroom was broken into overnight and a 42-inch set was stolen, but laptops were left untouched. Central Normal School caretaker Bruce Bryant was one of the first on the scene yesterday morning.

He arrived after security guards who had responded to an alarm. They found a broken window in a classroom.

It appeared thieves had smashed the door’s glass from the outside to reach in and open the handle to wheel the television out on its trolley, before closing the door behind them. 

‘‘It was a very clean job, a very tidy job – I’ll give them that,’’ Mr Bryant said.

Senior Sergeant Phil Ward said the summer holidays had been relatively trouble-free for schools, but some had been targeted by vandals, including Palmerston North Boys’ High, Cloverlea School and Longburn School.

‘‘It’s a risky time of the year for them because obviously they position themselves as a vulnerable target as schools are unoccupied,’’ Mr Ward said.

A group of teenagers, aged about 14, were referred to youth services after they threw stones, smashing three windows at Boys’ High on January 3.

Cloverlea School was also targeted by vandals, who broke several windows during the summer break.

Police had also spoken to a former pupil suspected to be responsible for damage to classrooms at Longburn Adventist College.

Police urged members of the public to report suspicious activity or people on school grounds, Mr Ward said.

‘‘People shouldn’t hesitate to call us when they feel people don’t fit the circumstances or they are acting suspiciously.’’

Police had worked with schools on their security in the months leading up to Christmas. 

Mr  Ward said most schools now had SelectaDNA kits from BNZ bank, which helped them mark their property invisibly to help them trace it if it is stolen.

Police are appealing to anyone with information on the Central Normal School burglary to call Palmerston North police station, (06) 351 3600, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Manawatu Standard