In response, local authorities are launching aggressive security campaigns.
The London Borough of Havering and Darlington County Council, for example, have equipped schools with hi-tech security mark systems and worked closely with the local police. Schools in areas such as Derbyshire, Dudley and Dorset have been issued with thousands of security mark etching kits.
Manufacturers are bringing out data projectors with extra security features. Sahara, for example, has launched The Protector, a bright orange model exclusively made for education, which cannot be operated if it is unplugged from the mains, unless a removable security panel is re-fitted (review p28). Getting insurance for a data projector can be difficult or expensive, so RM has launched a low-cost theft protection policy for schools.
But data projector theft isn't just about the money - there is a human cost involved too. "Children get so disillusioned when something like this happens," said Penny Patterson(left), Havering's general inspector for ICT.
"Why should children be deprived of their education just so someone can enjoy watching football? That isn't right."