Schools: Protect yourselves

Here’s another story that leaves me shaking my head. A Midwestern school district has reported thefts of air-conditioning units at four schools this summer. The damages total more than $80,000. At one school alone, thieves–looking for valuable copper tubing–made off with 13 entire units. Two other schools reported a total of 10 units stolen. Another campus had seven units destroyed as the thieves searched for copper.

One official said the district has insurance, but with a $100,000 deductible. The loss so far is equivalent to the salaries of two teachers, he said. Not many districts can afford this type of loss.

So now this Midwestern district is asking for the public’s help in locating the units or identifying the thieves, while also beginning to experiment with linking the air-conditioning units to school’s alarms systems.

This is one more case of assuming that crime happens to other school districts, not your own. There are a number of relatively inexpensive ways to secure these air-conditioning units at a cost that would be far less than the $80,000 already out of pocket.

A risk assessment by a qualified security integrator can spot weaknesses and suggest ways to protect valuable school equipment. Don’t count on the public to watch over your campuses. It’s time for schools to be proactive and protect themselves from theft and vandalism.

PatrickFielPatrick Fiel is public safety advisor for ADT Security Services and a former executive director of school security for Washington, D.C. Public School System. He also served 22 years in the Army Military Police Corps, where his responsibilities included day-to-day security operations at the West Point Military Academy. During his time with ADT, Fiel has conducted more than 100 television, radio, newspaper, and magazine interviews as a public and school safety expert.

Follow Patrick Fiel on Twitter.

Laura Ascione

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