COLNE: Police warn schools to upgrade security after theft blitz

GOING: A number of Police Community Support Officers are set to go. (S)

GOING: A number of Police Community Support Officers are set to go. (S)

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THIEVES who have repeatedly targeted Colne schools for their computer equipment have been branded “disgusting” by a local councillor.

The latest raids at Park High School have prompted police to issue a warning to other schools to step up security.

Park High School was hit twice last week, when thieves stole five laptops on the evening of January 19th and returned overnight on January 23rd.

They left empty handed the second time thanks to increased security, but caused extensive damage to doors using paving slabs to smash their way into the locked rooms.

Headteacher Dr Paul Parkin said: “Over the past few weeks, Park High School has been broken into on several occasions. The total cost to the school has been in excess of £10,000, the majority of which has been spent repairing reinforced windows and doors.

“The school is working closely with police and has spent further funds to update security.

“It is extremely disappointing that in a climate of severe financial constraints the school’s budget is being spent on updating security rather than on the education of our pupils.”

The Venables Avenue school has been repeatedly preyed on by thieves over recent months.

At the beginning of the year more that £1,500 worth of computer equipment was stolen and before this, during the summer holiday, the school lost five laptops valued at £2,500.

Coun. Ann Kerrigan who represents Colne’s Horsfield Ward said: “The people who are doing this are disgusting - they are stealing from children and from the community.

“Students save coursework and exam work on school computers and expect it to be safe and now their hard work has been lost.

“I hope whoever is carrying out these thefts is caught quickly and suitably punished for their actions.”

County councillor Susie Charles, cabinet member for children and schools, added: “I always feel that stealing from schools is a particularly despicable act, because in effect it’s stealing from young people, who rely on school equipment bought with taxpayers’ money.

“I should like to ask residents who live near schools to support us by being particularly vigilant and reporting any suspicious activity to the police.”

Park High is not the only Colne school to have fallen victim to the persistent thieves.

At the end of last year, thieves smashed their way into Fisher More Catholic Humanities College on Gibfield Road, taking eight computers valued at around £4,000.

And over the summer months the school was targeted four times over a six week period losing £10,500 of equipment.

Primet High School on Dent Street was also hit over the summer holiday, when thieves took £40,000 worth of computers.

Police have notified all the schools in the area following the latest spate of thefts and have asked residents living near the buildings to keep an eye out.

Sgt Keith Beckley of Colne Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “We would ask the public to pay particular attention to individuals going on to school grounds.

“We would encourage them to inform us of their suspicions however insignificant they may seem at the time, they can go a long way in helping us catch the offenders.”

Anyone with information should contact Colne Neighbourhood Policing Team on 472441 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800555111.