Located on the outskirts of Wivenhoe in Essex, Millfelds Primary School is situated next to open countryside, offering outstanding views across the river estuary. The school, open to children aged 4 to 11, is proud of its highly talented and motivated team of teachers and its strong links with the local community.
Unfortunately, the new school year began on a sad note for Millfields Primary School when its pupils learnt that their ICT equipment had been stolen. According to Headteacher Janet Meacock: “The night before our children returned from their summer break, thiev es broke the locks on one of our windows, gained access to our two laptop trolleys and made away with 34 of our laptops.”
The laptop trolleys, neither of which was manufactured by LapSafe® Products, contained laptops worth a total of £15,000.
To make matters worse, just one month later, the school was burgled for the second time. As Janet explains: “After the first break-in, we followed the advice given to us by the police and increased our school’s security. We reinforced our locks and moved the laptop trolleys away from the window. Sadly, the thieves still managed to smash a window, break the hinges off of our laptop trolley and take 20 brand new laptops; the ones that had just been replaced.”
The duel thefts were not just inconvenient for Millfields Primary School. As Janet conveys, “Having to pay the insurance excess has obviously eaten into our budget and caused disruption to learning. Our ICT lessons are planned around the use of our laptops, so not having these resources for some time meant that teachers had to plan their lessons again. “Our pupils enjoy using the laptops, so it was upsetting for them to be without their computers while we waited for our insurer to replace them. It was also very distressing for our youngest pupils to think that their school, which is usually regarded as a safe haven, had been broken into.”
After reading about the thefts in the newspaper, ICT security expert LapSafe® Products, located just a few miles away from Millfields Primary School, was saddened to hear about the misfortune of a local school.
As Janet continues, “A representative at LapSafe® got in touch to explain that they were upset to read that our laptops had been stolen and wanted to do what they could to help us. LapSafe® is a local business to us, so they wanted to offer us a complimentary LapSafe® Mentor™– a laptop trolley built with security in mind – to try and reduce the likelihood of our laptops being stolen again.
“When the LapSafe® trolley arrived, it was very different to the two laptop trolleys that we had been using previously. The new trolley was clearly far more secure than our existing laptop trolleys and constructed to a much higher specification. As the trolley is modular, our laptops are now encased within two layers of steel, making it very difficult for thieves to break into the unit without damaging its content.
“The team from LapSafe® also fitted a docking station to our new trolley and helped us to set the motion sensor alarm on the cabinet. As a result, the trolley can now be attached to the wall overnight to prevent it from being wheeled away by thieves and features an alarm that is so loud that it would deter most thieves!”
Since the break-ins, Millfields Primary School has taken additional security procedures, in addition to their new LapSafe® trolley, to help keep its ICT equipment safe. As Janet explains, “We have bricked up the window of the room that was broken into and stepped up the school’s security. We are learning very quickly that criminals will make every effort to take what is not theirs, but we are fairly certain that our laptops will be safe inside the secure LapSafe®; we would be very surprised if anyone did manage to break into it!”
As a result of her school’s experience, Janet is urging all schools to think carefully about how they secure valuable ICT equipment. “When it comes to preventing theft, schools do not often think about the security of their laptop trolley, just the security of the room that it is locked inside. When we bought our two original laptop trolleys, we thought mainly of cost – both were second hand – believing that the school’s other security measures were sufficient to deter any thieves. I think that if we had bought a LapSafe® in the first place, our laptops may not have been stolen.”
In 2016 the LRC team at Exeter College decided to introduce a self-issue laptop service.
TAFE SA is South Australia’s largest vocational education and training (VET) provider.