Taking computers from (growing) babies

As schools obtain nice shiny computers, security is not keeping pace and thieves are helping themselves to school PCs and other equipment.

As school equipment gets more expensive, its value attracts not just students but thieves as well. In Fort Worth, burglars have stolen or damaged thousands of dollars in computers and other equipment - and administrators are instituting new security measures to curtail the thefts, reports the Star Telegram.

Although losses from theft represent less than 5 percent of the district's $7.1 million budget for school technology, officials are considering implementing digital surveillance systems and software that would let police track a stolen computer's location.

"It's a big concern," Trustee Judy Needham said. "It's disgusting that people are stealing the tools our kids need to learn. The administration is working on the problem and, hopefully, we've seen the worst."

Examples of some of the thefts from last year include: $45,000 worth of laptop computers from a cart at Meacham Middle School and $60,000 in property from J.P. Elder Middle School.

"Technology has changed, and schools are using computers and projectors," said Lt. John Grady of the Fort Worth Police School Security Initiative. "It's nice equipment that costs money."

District officials have beefed-up security patrols and security cameras.

"We know where our vulnerabilities are," said Cecelia Speer, assistant superintendent of safety, security and operations. "We hope that as we move forward, we'll have the funds to address those issues."