Markers curb crime in schools

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Schools will be able to use the crime prevention kits on equipment, so that if it gets stolen, police can then trace it back to the school. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Schools will be able to use the crime prevention kits on equipment, so that if it gets stolen, police can then trace it back to the school. Photo / Sarah Ivey

A new weapon has been rolled out to combat school burglaries in Wairarapa.

The BNZ Safer Schools scheme was officially launched at Makoura College in Masterton on Friday. It aims to distribute forensic property marking kits to hundreds of primary, intermediate and secondary schools in Wairarapa and Wellington by the end of next year.

Masterton police Senior Sergeant Carolyn Watson, Wairarapa prevention manager, said at the launch there had been 53 burglaries of schools in Wairarapa since March 2011.

Only 11 of the burglaries had been resolved so far, she said, and most had involved the theft of high-end items including laptops, cellphones and overhead projectors.

"The effect on the kids and the staff is similar to when your home is burgled. The kids ask when the bad people are coming back. This programme is in keeping with the prevention-first strategy and stops the crime from happening in the first place."

The SelectaDNA kits feature a synthetic DNA solution that indelibly marks items, which police can instantly identify as stolen using frontline UV-capable torches. The legal owner of stolen items also can be identified through a central database using the unique DNA markers.

Also distributed in the kits are signs and window stickers that warn would-be thieves that the forensic system is protecting property at the school.

The kits have been handed out to schools throughout the North Island during the past two years and earlier trials at Rotorua schools showed burglaries were cut by 45 per cent.

The Wairarapa programme is a joint initiative between NZ Police, Ministry of Education, Bank of New Zealand, and Crimestoppers and the Wellington and Wairarapa regional roll-out started last week.

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