Community partners join forces to help keep schools safe

Community partners join forces to help keep schools safe

Bay of Plenty

Western Bay of Plenty Police, local schools, the Ministry of Education, BNZ and Selecta DNA are joining forces to help local schools keep their classrooms safe and reduce the number of school burglaries.

Operation SNAP (Serial Number Action Partnership) was launched today at Greenpark School, Tauranga.

The joint programme involves the distribution of 68 forensic DNA marker kits to schools across the Western Bay of Plenty, as well as the promotion of the website, where schools and members of the public can register the serial numbers of valuable property.

Acting Area Commander, Inspector Karl Wright-St Clair, says schools can often be a target for burglary offenders, who are specifically looking for electronic equipment, musical instruments or sports goods.

"Unfortunately by their very nature, schools are a vulnerable target in our community. They are isolated locations at night, on weekends and during the holidays, and they have a wide range of resources and equipment."

Inspector Wright-St Clair says there were 69 burglaries from education centres in 2010 and through to March 2011. He says at the moment, the most targeted items are laptops, data projectors and cameras.

"Any theft has a massive effect on the school, its students and the wider community. The launch of the Selecta DNA forensic marking kits will go a long way to helping reduce the potential for schools to be targeted, while the SNAP website helps ensure schools can recover their property if stolen."

The Selecta DNA forensic marking kit contains a clear glue-like substance made up of synthetic DNA code which can be painted on to valuable items. The DNA code is unique to each school and shows up under ultra-violet light, making it easy for Police to trace the owners when they recover stolen property.

"The use of this product is a complete deterrent to would-be burglars. You can't file off the code as you can with some serial numbers, and because it is non-removable, it is more difficult to sell the stolen property.

"If you were thinking about targeting a school in the Western Bay of Plenty – think again."

Inspector Wright-St Clair says people in the local community can also do their bit to help keep schools safe.

"We're asking everyone in the area to help prevent burglary or damage in schools. All it takes is someone keeping an eye on the school on a regular basis to help deter would-be offenders – or to be able to let us know quickly if something isn't right.

"It could be as simple as someone taking a walk through the school on the weekends, walking around the classrooms and checking doors and windows.

"If anyone notices something unusual or is concerned, we would encourage people to ring 111 immediately. We would far rather know about it so that we can either prevent a crime occurring, or have a better chance of catching the offenders quickly."

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Jacky James
Phone: 027 215 6870