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Protecting personal and school property

New York Teacher

Do you know where your belongings are? Laptops, cell phones and credit cards can easily go missing when you’re distracted during the busy school day. Whether you are shepherding students from one class to another, or going on your break, it’s wise to remain mindful of your possessions.

“We take it for granted when we leave that our personal property will be there when we return,” said Jeff Povalitis, the UFT’s director of safety and health. “Bring them with you or lock them up in the classroom. And don’t bring a lot of cash to school, just what you need.”

Commanding Officer Ruben Beltran of the New York Police Department’s School Safety Division said major crimes are down almost 4 percent so far this school year compared with the same time period last year, but theft has increased 9 percent.

“Sixty-five percent of those thefts were of unattended personal property that belonged to members of the school community, with almost half belonging to teachers and staff,” Beltran said. “Department of Education property accounted for 27 percent of the thefts, resulting in computers and electronics not being available for students, and funds for trips and other activities gone forever.”

Beltran says it’s wise to place identifying marks on personal items and to record the serial numbers of school property to help police track missing items.  

Here are other recommendations from the NYPD School Safety Division to reduce the risk of theft of both personal items and school property:

  • All computer equipment and personal belongings should be placed in school cabinets or closets designed for securing these items. Make sure the doors and locks work properly.
  • Do not place large sums of money in anything that is unlocked or in an area that is unattended. Make sure to follow proper procedures for handling funds for special events, such as class trips and proms.
  •  Account for expensive electronics used during the school day. If laptops and calculators are provided to students for only one class period, those items should be signed out at the start of class and signed back in when class ends. Be sure to activate security features on all computers.
  • Be discreet with valuables. Don’t let everyone see that a cell phone, wallet or purse is being left in the bottom desk drawer.
  • Never leave valuable equipment in a room that is unattended or unlocked. If equipment goes missing, notify a school safety agent immediately.
  • If you find an unlocked door to a room that contains items of value, or see a purse, backpack, laptop, cell phone or other valuable item left unattended, tell the principal or custodian and ask them to lock the door. A school safety agent can safeguard the items if the principal or custodian is not available.
  • Alert the school safety agent about suspicious people or vehicles at a school.