School-issued iPads Lead to Theft

More and more schools are going the extra mile to make sure every student has an iPad or other electronic device to use in school. Whether the school district gets a grant, allocates part of the budget, or works to raise extra funds, the innovation is inevitably announced in the local newspaper. What could possibly go wrong?

Quite a few schools have learned the hard way that thieves read the papers, too. USA Today reports on several cases of break-ins in which thieves made off with dozens or even hundreds of iPads at a time. In one school that had invested in security carts to wheel from class to class, the carts themselves were missing. Keeping the devices together at school makes it easier for mass theft, but districts that allow students to take the devices home have seen a rash of thefts as well.

That's exactly what happened in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District, which serves about 6,000 students in northeastern Ohio. The district issued 1,300 iPads to its middle school students last fall.

At first, the tablets were a triumph for the district, "shouted from the rooftops" in celebration, said district spokeswoman Angee Shaker. Nobody considered this might attract robbers, who saw middle school students as easy targets.

Less than a week after the tablets were handed out, more than a dozen students had been mugged on the way home from school. The thieves had learned to deactivate a tracking software on the tablets, so they stole iPads exclusively, Shaker said.

The article does not address the issue of students who report the devices stolen so they can keep them, but you know that happens as well. One of my naive daughters left an iPod out in plain sight and it was stolen by another student. As she had paid for it herself, and then paid for a replacement, I hope she learned a lesson. -via Fark

(Image credit: Tom Morris)

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When I was the science lab technician for the local college we provided classes with cheap scientific calculators for student use. I couldn't replace them fast enough. The college kids took them as if they were merely a piece of paper. I finally convinced my boss that students had cell phones that could do the same thing. We finally put an end to free calculators.
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My kids' school started a "device for every student" program a year ago. In a complete reversal of earlier policy, students were encouraged to bring their own smart phone, iPad, or iPod from home to connect to the internet at school. Donations of old devices were solicited for students who could not afford their own, so relatively little money was spent. When there's not a device for everyone, they can be shared and a few students can use the old desktop setups. Students are basically responsible for their own devices, but we still see theft.
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