School caretaker confronts burglar

A QUICK-thinking caretaker has been praised for his actions after he was confronted by thieves during a raid on a Suffolk middle school.Roger Hardy was making his nightly checks of Riverside School, in Mildenhall, when he came face-to-face with a man carrying an overhead projector.

A QUICK-thinking caretaker has been praised for his actions after he was confronted by thieves during a raid on a Suffolk middle school.

Roger Hardy was making his nightly checks of Riverside School, in Mildenhall, when he came face-to-face with a man carrying an overhead projector.

Despite being threatened by the thief, Mr Hardy walked away and dialled 999, causing the man and his accomplice, who had been in another classroom, to flee the school.

Last night Mr Hardy, who has worked at the school for three years, said he had been left shaken as a result of the incident, which happened at around 6pm on Tuesday.


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“I went to walk into one of the classrooms and the door suddenly opened,” he said. “He was a large, well-built man, and he threatened to kill me unless I got out of his way. I didn't think it was wise to try and tackle him so I just walked away and dialled 999.

“I was very shocked by what happened, but I was not injured and I am not going to let it stop me from doing my job.”

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But despite escaping the school with the projector - which had recently been bought using school funds - it is thought the same two men are responsible for a second raid on the school just hours later, when another overhead projector and a laptop computer were also stolen.

Headmistress Caroline Yates praised Mr Hardy, and said he did the right thing by not provoking the thieves.

“The men could have easily attacked him and it is just not worth the risk,” she said.

“Some of the children had not long left the school because of an after-school class, so it was lucky no one was left in the classrooms. But we have a lot of cleaning staff in the building at that time of night and when the police arrived they told everyone to go into the staff room until the building was made safe.

“The items stolen were worth around £4,500 in total, and although the school is covered by insurance it is very inconvenient because it will be a while before we can replace the items, which are much-needed pieces of equipment and are in constant use by the children.

“The governors have visited the school and we are now looking at two or three improvements to security in light of the thefts.”

A spokesman for Suffolk police said: “Mr Hardy did the right thing and did not inflame the situation by tackling the offenders. We would recommend that anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation does the same thing and leaves the scene and dials 999 immediately.”

Police are now appealing for information about the theft, which they are linking to an incident at Place Farm Primary School, Haverhill, at around 5.30pm on the same night, when four overhead projectors, five digital cameras, and four laptops worth a total of nearly £6,500 were stolen.

One of the men is described as being white, in his twenties, and was wearing a dark hooded cagoule, with a Burberry scarf covering his mouth. Contact the Suffolk police 01284 774100.

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