A 25-camera security system at Hora Hora Primary School has meant thieves and vandals have been identified, according to principal Pat Newman. Photo/ Michael Cunningham

History has shown anyone engaging in criminal activity at the school in Whangarei will be filmed, identified and handed over to the police.

The message was loud and clear from Mr Newman: “We will catch you.”

Over the past two weeks the school has been targeted by thieves who broke into the office block and stole a safe. In another incident, graffiti costing thousands of dollars to remove was plastered across the school buildings.

Mr Newman said photos from the video footage were posted on the school’s Facebook page and within an hour all those involved has been identified. One handed herself in to police and parents had also approached the school after identifying their children. Those identified are now going through the courts or being dealt with by police.

None of the six youths involved were students or past students at the school.

“We’ve never had any damage from our kids or kids who have gone through the school… there is respect for the school from them.”

The security system was given a $20,000 upgrade last year and it was money well spent, Mr Newman said.

“The community stands behind the school and has identified the children who did this to the school. The neat thing is the community has said this is not acceptable.”

In the latest incident on the weekend, vandals spray-painted buildings, the school logo and even got on the roof to spray an obscene outline.

Three of the security cameras were also sprayed. Two were cleaned off but one may have to be replaced. A clean-up operation was in full swing this week.

“It’s a waste of time and it’s a waste of money. This school is special to us , the kids and the community. To see it defaced is gutting.”

“If you do this to our school, we will publicise it. Anyone who vandalises our school, I can tell you your photo will be splashed all round the internet.”

Mr Newman was not a fan of fencing off schools and said he encouraged people to use the facilities and fields when school was out.

The security system allowed Mr Newman to log in on his phone at anytime from anywhere and he could tap into the 25 cameras on site.

The cameras operated on motion detection and were rigged with night sensors as well.

The fact there are cameras at the school is no secret, with numerous signs around the school buildings reminding people to smile because they are on camera.

The Ministry of Education’s head of the education infrastructure service Kim Shannon said schools covered routine vandalism and graffiti costs through their operating grants.

“Schools don’t report back to us on how much they spend on this. But where a school faces particularly high costs for vandalism and graffiti, we provide top-up grants,” Ms Shannon said.

Source: Northern Advocate

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