Essex: £1.6million worth of equipment stolen from county’s schools in three years

Around �1.6million worth of equipment has been stolen from Essex schools over the past three years

Around �1.6million worth of equipment has been stolen from Essex schools over the past three years - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

Thieves have stolen more than £1.6million worth of equipment from Essex schools over the past three years, the EADT can today reveal.

According to new statistics, there were a total of 2,689 burglaries and thefts at schools reported to Essex Police between 2010 and 2012. The value of the items stolen is estimated to be around £1,634,284.

Crimes have included theft of computers and laptops, theft bicycles and metal thefts.

The most costly crime saw approximately £50,000 worth of metal taken from one school while computers worth around £30,000 were stolen from another.

Highfields Primary School in Colchester Road, Manningtree, is one of those to have been targeted by thieves.

A total of 15 laptops were taken from the school in December last year.

Emma Clark, crime prevention tactical advisor at Essex Police, said schools can get advice from officers on how to deter thieves.

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“Educational establishments remain an attractive target for thieves, whether this is theft, criminal damage or vandalism,” she added. “All of which is often distressing and frequently costly to rectify.

“However, taking some simple security measures will go a long way to safeguard your property and premises.” The figures also show that 2011 had the highest number of thefts and burglaries at schools with 938 compared to 604 in 2010 and 683 reported last year.

Advice from Essex Police officers includes ensuring all windows and doors are locked, lock expensive items such as laptops and projectors out of sight, security mark valuable items, check that CCTV is in full working order and set the school’s alarm system.

The figures were revealed in response to a Freedom of Information request.

Around 50 schools in neighbouring Suffolk have been targeted since the beginning of the year with hundreds of laptops, computers and Apple iMacs taken.

n Two people have been arrested in connection with 25 Essex school burglaries in which laptops and computer equipment worth more than £50,000 were stolen.

The arrests were carried out by Essex Police in the Clacton area on October 27.

Two men, aged in their 20s, were arrested at their homes on suspicion of conspiring to burgle and later released on bail until December 16.

The thefts happened in primary and secondary schools between January 2012 and April 2013.

The arrests were made as part on an ongoing joint operation between Essex Police and Suffolk Constabulary.