Keep I.T. Safe and Keep I.T.
Schools are being targeted for the theft of computer equipment at a rate greater than at anytime since component theft was rife in the mid 1990’s. In South Yorkshire there has been a spate of thefts of digital projectors and desktop machines. In East Anglia laptops and digital cameras are the prime target. In London thieves take laptops and projectors from schools in the late afternoon, with no apparent signs of a break in. One East Midlands city has lost £500,000 worth of I.T. equipment from its schools in the last three years.
Leicestershire is no different. It reflects the national trend of increased theft of these valuable and portable items. Digital projectors are attractive because they are compatible with Play Stations and sell for £100 each on the streets. No surprise then that here in Leicestershire, along with laptops, they are prime targets. Several laptop thefts in Leicestershire schools have exceeded £10,000 each. We can only speculate on the extent to which these thefts are planned or opportunist. What we do know is that if you want to keep IT, you have to keep IT safe.
We take I.T. very much for granted. It is now commonplace to have a home computer, to have access to the Internet in the classroom and to use a range of other hi-tech equipment to support the curriculum. Computers are no longer situated solely in a dedicated I.T. suite which is easy to protect and secure when compared to the typical classroom. Theft from ordinary classrooms, with their ease of access, is becoming more common as a result.
Schools need to respond to these changes and we are encouraging this by insisting on better security as a requirement of insurance cover. For instance we are now requiring physical protection for ceiling mounted projectors such as use of the Dalen entrapment device, and soundly securing the ceiling mounted pole.
Large numbers of laptops stored together make it easy for the thief. Where storage areas are distributed around the premises they should be under constant review. Extra security should be considered and advice on this is available. Circumstances change rapidly and you should regularly ask yourself how secure are the storage areas you use. Some items you can bolt down or otherwise fix securely, other items you can lock away, but what about the items you are using, the ones you turn your back on? You wouldn’t leave your purse or wallet on full view unattended so think before you leave a laptop unattended. The replacement cost of a laptop is over £1,000 but in addition what is the cost of software and information saved and not separately backed up if lost through theft? What measures should you be taking to ensure you can continue to function should it be stolen?
The future will see the increased use of technology in the classroom as schools and colleges are encouraged to experiment with a variety of different approaches to learning. Interactive whiteboards are becoming more commonplace and the use of IT is increasing in primary schools as different models to support student centered learning are piloted.
Unfortunately schools will continue to be targeted as they invest in equipment that is attractive and portable and can easily be adapted to use at home. However, you can significantly reduce the opportunities for theft with some elementary precautions.
Page Last Updated: 7 October 2004