When you think of common victims of theft, schools may not be the first places that come to mind. But while they may not be high-profile targets, schools do have a surprising number of valuables on site, which will naturally attract attention from pupils, visitors, and members of the public.
In fact, theft in schools is rapidly on the rise, with data from a recent survey suggesting that there will be as many as 220,000 thefts in UK schools during the 2022-2023 academic year alone.
In this article, we will outline the most valuable items on school premises and discuss the security measures you can take to keep school and student property safe.
Valuable Item 1: Cash
Unsurprisingly, cash is the joint most common item stolen in schools - tied with books and stationery – being taken in 16% of school thefts.
Cash is a common target for thieves - professional and amateur alike - and should never be left in easy reach of sticky hands.
Ideally, your school should switch to using a digital payment system for purchasing school lunches, and provide school transport which can be prepaid in advance so that your students do not have to depend on public transport.
If you already have these measures in place, you can encourage students to keep their lockers secured at all times, or to hand any valuables into the school office for collection by the end of the school day. These valuables should then be kept in a secure safe and recorded in a logbook to ensure that all cash is present and accounted for.
In addition, you should never leave valuables (or large sums of cash) on your school premises overnight, as this could increase your risk of thefts and burglaries.
For maximum security, consider using an access control system to prevent unauthorised persons from gaining access to offices containing cash and/or sensitive documents. This will also help you to protect the personal data of your students and staff.
Valuable Item 2: Computers
Computers, laptops, and other electronic items are high value, and commonly at risk of being stolen. Thankfully, there are several solutions to this common problem.
For instance, you may wish to consider using a lock to secure devices to their desk, making them more difficult to remove. You can even install a theft alarm system specifically designed for laptops and computers, to alert you if a device is removed. And when purchasing laptops for your school, ensure that they have a tracking system in place so you can locate the device in the event of a theft.
You should also make sure that electronic devices are password-protected to prevent thieves from accessing sensitive data about your school and its students.
Valuable Item 3: Books And Stationary
The average British spend on ‘back to school’ items can be up to £200, including valuable textbooks and stationery.
Books and stationery don't just represent monetary value - they are also commonly stolen by students from lower-income families who cannot necessarily afford the resources they need.
If book and stationary theft is an issue in your school, encourage students to keep their lockers locked at all times, and ensure that there is a textbook grant available for parents from lower-income households as a preventative measure.
Valuable Item 4: Bicycles And Bicycle Parts
Bicycles and bicycle parts are ranked the next most commonly stolen items in UK schools, representing 12% of all school thefts.
Bicycles are the perfect target for many thieves for several reasons: firstly, they are usually kept outside, making them easy to steal while going unnoticed. Secondly, they are high-value items, often worth several hundreds of pounds. And unlike mobile phones and laptops, they are unlikely to be flagged as a stolen item, making them ideal for resale.
To prevent bicycle theft, installing a CCTV system on your school grounds is the perfect solution. CCTV doesn't just help you catch criminals in the act, but also provides you with evidence that you can use in court or disciplinary proceedings.
Valuable Item 5: Mobile Phones
Did you know that more than nine in ten children now own their own mobile phones by the age of 11?
Mobile phones are light, small, and discrete to carry away. They’re also one of the most valuable items that students carry on their person, making them an easy target for theft. And although most smartphones have advanced security features installed, there are ways to override and bypass these features - like for example, by resetting the phone to factory settings.
While most schools advise that students do not carry their phones on their person, these rules can be difficult to enforce and are frequently ignored by students and parents alike.
Offer your students advice on how to track their smartphones via geolocational tracking apps in case the phone is stolen from them. For instance, this can be done via information sessions with groups of students, or through leaflets and posters that are distributed throughout the school.
Want to keep your school, staff, students, and valuables safe from harm? Make sure you contact our expert team!