Suffolk: Nearly 50 schools targeted by computer thieves

Police are hunting a man after a serious road crash on the A12

Police are hunting a man after a serious road crash on the A12

THIEVES have struck at more than 45 Suffolk schools since January last year in a bid to steal computer equipment, according to police

Schools targeted by laptop thieves

Schools targeted by laptop thieves - Credit: Archant

The vast majority of the burglaries or attempted break-ins are believed to be the work of an organised crime gang.

New figures show that in the past 16 months nearly 320 laptops, computers and Apple iMacs have been taken.

The latest theft took place at Witnesham Primary School earlier this week.

At some point between 7.15pm on Tuesday and 2.30pm on Wednesday three windows were smashed and a trolley containing the computers was forced open. Burglars made off with eight laptops.

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The estimated total value of the items stolen across Suffolk is in excess of £150,000.

The figures were revealed in response to a Freedom of Information request by The East Anglian Daily Times.

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However, there could have been more burglaries at schools as a general search criteria was used to supply the information and no guarantee could be made there were not further crimes reported.

Police have mounted a dedicated operation in a bid to catch what they suspect is a gang of burglars.

Detectives are understood to have been liaising with their counterparts in Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire.

In addition to at least 46 Suffolk schools which have been targeted since the beginning of 2012, Highfields Primary School in Manningtree has also suffered a break-in.

On December 23, 15 laptops were stolen.

Last week Lucy Sheehan, a spokeswoman for Suffolk Constabulary, said: “An operation, code-named Justine, has been commissioned to tackle the issue of burglaries at schools across the county.

“Under the operation, enquiries will continue to analyse intelligence linked to the incidents and to identify potential suspects.

“The investigation will also be looking at possible ways in which the stolen equipment is being disposed of.

“Our roads policing officers will be deployed to areas around schools as part of their patrol routes and safer neighbourhood teams will be working with schools in their areas.

“We will continue to work with neighbouring police forces to share intelligence and information and would encourage anyone with information on who may be responsible for these crimes to come forward.

“An essential part of the operation involves ensuring that necessary crime prevention advice is provided to schools.

“In liaison with Suffolk County Council, every school in the county has been contacted and given advice on how to store equipment securely and to protect their buildings.

“Each school has also been offered a visit from a crime reduction officer, who can provide tailored advice on site security.

“We would encourage any school with concerns to request a visit as soon as possible, by contacting Suffolk Police on 101.”

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