Schools advised to improve security

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 June, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 June, 2004, 12:00am

As losses from burglaries soar and theft from within rises, the police say that sophisticated devices must be installed

Police are calling on schools in the city to consider installing more sophisticated security devices to protect expensive electronic equipment from intruders, as losses from burglaries soar.

Overhead projectors, which are worth about $30,000 to $40,000 each, are a particular target of thieves, the police say, with one school losing 10 of them in one incident.

In East Kowloon alone, losses from burglaries at primary and secondary schools in the first quarter of this year topped $630,000 from 10 raids, compared with $880,000 from 57 cases in the whole of last year.

Thefts within schools are also on the rise - with electronic equipment a favourite target.

Kowloon East regional crime prevention officer Dennis Ko Shek-cheong said 56 thefts involving losses of $180,000 were reported in the first quarter, compared with 55 cases involving $190,000 in all of last year.

Mr Ko said that the increases in burglary losses had been 'drastic' and it was difficult to track the culprits.

'Quite a lot of schools in the region have big campuses. Even if there are in-school security guards, they cannot look after every corner of the campus.

'Moreover, burglars flee very quickly if they trigger the security alarm,' he said.

Most of the burglaries involved LCD overhead projectors, taken in raids after school or during holidays.

Unsecured projectors are extremely vulnerable because they can be removed from the ceiling in less than two minutes.

Mr Ko said that as more schools installed these devices as teaching aids, they should also enhance their security, such as installing the equipment in ceiling-mounted steel cages with sturdy locks.

Although this would not necessarily stop the burglars, it would 'at least make the process appear more complicated'.

Such measures would in the long run be cheaper than losing a projector, he said.

A more secure but costly measure is to connect LCD projectors to a touch-trigger alarm system which is linked to an alarm monitoring centre.

Cheung Hing-chuen, the principal of Tseung Kwan O Government Secondary School, said after the traumatic experience of losing 'a few' LCD projectors, the school had toughened security - and so far it was paying off, with no burglaries reported since.

'We have installed eight surveillance cameras in the main gate, corridors and stairways. Ultra-red light detectors are also keeping an eye on our corridors at night,' said Mr Cheung.

Popular targets of thefts at school are mobile phones, MP3 players and octopus cards. They are usually stolen by students of the same school during recess and after school.