An Auckland primary school has been left gutted after thieves broke in on the weekend and nicked a stash of iPads meant for students' use.

Police are investigating the burglary, which happened at Massey Primary School in the early hours of January 26.

And the school principal says it's clear the thieves knew exactly what they were looking for.

School principal Bruce Barnes lives near the school and was there within five minutes after the alarm sounded at 12.54am on Sunday.

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By the time he had parked and got to the room where the devices were kept, the thieves were gone.

They had smashed the door's glass to open the handle, and taken 20 iPads as well as a number of chargers.

The iPads were just six months old and will cost $12,500 to replace, of which $12,000 is covered by insurance.

Twenty iPads like this one were stolen from Massey Primary School in Auckland over the weekend. Photo / Supplied
Twenty iPads like this one were stolen from Massey Primary School in Auckland over the weekend. Photo / Supplied

The replacement process is underway, but when school starts next week around 200 children will be missing out because of the theft.

There's not much on the iPads that will be of use to a thief, apart from a few kids' apps.

"They're all password coded and we're also in the process of getting them rendered useless. So nobody can access them, unless they're stupid enough to ring us and ask for a password."

The iPads didn't have tracking enabled. "That's been a big learning curve; we will do [tracking] with the next lot. We'll also get CCTV cameras too - all these things are all very well after the fact."

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Barnes believed the thieves knew exactly where to go to get the iPads, suggesting it was someone from the wider school community who was responsible.

While that was disappointing, more than 12,000 people had liked a school Facebook post about the theft, and Barnes was confident the wider community was keeping an eye out for the iPads.

Police had not found any fingerprints at the scene.

Detective Senior Sergeant Roger Small said the theft was "hugely disappointing for the school and children, just before they are due to start back".

Police were following "lines of inquiry", Small said. He asked anyone with information to contact Sergeant Ian Carter by calling 105.

They could also provide information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or send police a private message on Facebook.

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Sadly the Junior School was broken into on Sunday. 19 IPads (with red cases) were stolen. This has been reported to the Police. If you have any information please contact Mr Barnes in the school office.

Posted by Massey Primary School on Monday, 27 January 2020