Data projector theft is at epidemic levels and security is a major issue, writes George Cole
Data projectors have become the number one target for thieves stealing ICT equipment from schools and the problem is likely to get worse as thousands more projectors go into schools under the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) interactive whiteboard expansion initiative.
"Some county councils report losses from as many as 85 per cent of all schools they're responsible for," says Udo Scherpe, marketing manager of IT security company Dalen. In some LEAs, insurers now refuse to cover data projector loss unless elaborate security procedures are in place.
A typical school data projector costs between pound;500 and pound;1,000 and because the products are easy to conceal in a bag they are tempting targets for thieves.
Many projectors are thought to end up with young men who use them at home to display sport, computer games and DVD films on a large screen.
Although the pound;50 million DfES initiative covers the purchase of boards and projectors, it doesn't cover security equipment, so schools and LEAs have to make their own security provisions.
Technology agency Becta, which manages the scheme, says security equipment is not included because many schools and LEAs already have security procedures in place.
Many data projectors are fixed to classroom ceilings and thus are on permanent public view. Thieves have been known to rip projectors from the ceiling or to bring in specialist cutting equipment to slice through the mounting pole.The good news is there are a number of security options available for schools including, security cables, cages and alarms.
* See pages 32-33