Stolen speak­ers cost schools thou­sands

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - ELESHA ED­MONDS AND TOM CARNEGIE

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.

PHOTO: RORY O’SUL­LI­VAN/FAIR­FAX NZ

Con­sta­ble Don Al­lan and One­hunga Pri­mary School prin­ci­pal Viki Hol­ley.

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