Burglars targeting schools' technology

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 25/01/2014

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Schools are increasing security as digital age demands make them greater targets for burglaries.

Break-ins and theft of equipment like school laptops, desktop computers and tablets are becoming more frequent, and police say schools need to make devices less attractive to steal.

Security cameras are in higher demand, but hiding technology from prying eyes is considered the best preventive measure.

Principals' Federation president Phil Harding said school burglaries were "absolutely" a problem.

While he was principal of Paparoa Street School in Christchurch two years ago, the school was burgled of computers and other devices twice within weeks.

He was told the technology was likely stolen to order, then exported. "They're in and out in minutes. It's a huge cost, and it's a huge frustration."

All schools ran security monitoring through contractors, but "you don't leave things out on display", and he recommended securing technology with steel security ties.

"Don't leave computers where they can be snatched and grabbed," Harding said.

Schools often had policies about taking technology home, or locking them away in cabinets out of sight. "That's the only answer we've got at the moment. None of those things are foolproof for true professionals."

Canterbury Primary Principals' Association president Rob Callaghan said schools were targets as technology became an integral part of modern learning.

"When bad people know you've got good stuff they will target you."

He had seen a school raided on the day new computers were delivered.

"[Thieves] saw them go in and they were gone in a flash."

Leaving laptops and portable devices on desks was not advised, especially if they were all charging in one spot.

Insurance did not always cover the cost of replacing them, he said.

Christchurch Detective Sergeant Ross Tarawhiti saw school burglary files "coming over my desk all the time".

"It's become more prevalent as schools get more technological. That's like everything."

Police were "trying to get to grips with" who was creating the demand that drove it, and work with schools to make devices less attractive to steal.

School Trustees Association president Lorraine Kerr said schools had always required alarm systems because they were "targets for louts over the weekends".

Cameras were becoming "top of the list" for boards, while being resourceful with funding that was not enough to cover top of the range security. "As usual it always comes back to, can we afford it?"

Ministry of Education head of education infrastructure Kim Shannon said schools received capital funding allocations which could be used to install security systems, and received funding to cover insurance premiums.

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- The Press

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