Stolen speakers cost schools thousands
Thieves are silencing schools across Auckland by stealing important emergency sirens.
Fire alarms have been stolen by youths who are attaching them to the handlebars of their bikes.
Onehunga Primary School is one of more than seven schools that have had their sirens stolen forcing them to fork out thousands of dollars in replacements.
Principal Viki Holley says the thieves didn’t only take the sirens, they also damaged the walls trying to take the sirens out.
‘‘It’s not just the stealing, it’s bringing people into the school who are willing to damage it.’’
She says the school has stopped replacing the sirens and their caretaker now plugs in the fire alarms and puts them away at the end of the day.
‘‘It’s a huge waste of time and involves him going out with a ladder to put them up every morning,’’ Holley says.
Harry Dredge works in operations for Edwards, an audiovisual company in Penrose that sells and installs sirens as public address systems.
He says his store has had an influx of work from schools who need sirens replaced after they have been stolen.
‘‘We are always having to go back to schools now.
‘‘It would seem like this would be a money spinner but it is not, it is actually a real pain. We have to take workers away from really big jobs just to replace one speaker.’’
Dredge says there is one school where Edwards has had to replace a siren four times within a year.
‘‘We put metal cages around it and that you would think are almost impossible to get through.
‘‘They are also in places that are extremely hard to get to…yet they are still being stolen,’’ Dredge says.
Inspector Steve Samuels says over the past year he has noticed thieves mainly target areas that have external fire alarms.
Samuels says police are aware of the danger schools are in when the sirens are stolen.
‘‘The fact they target schools is a really bad thing.
‘‘Fire alarms in the schools is a way of staff contacting students in the play area.’’
Community constables have been approaching schools in central Auckland to make sure the loudspeakers are marked.
This is so police can identify them if they are stolen, Samuels says.
Constable Don Allan and Onehunga Primary School principal Viki Holley.