By Robert Marin
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
11:40 AM CDT, August 22, 2012
The theft of iPads from a northwest Kansas school district, may be related to a larger string of thefts.
Earlier this month 150 of the Apple tablets were stolen from Phillipsburg High School. Now investigators are looking into whether that theft may be related to several similar cases in western Kansas and Nebraska.
The Phillipsburg district's superintendent tells our news partners at The Salina Journal that the theft won't cause many problems for the start of school. He says the high school will likely borrow some iPads from the elementary school, and elementary grades may see a temporary shortage. He the Journal the district is working with its insurance to replace the stolen tablets, which are valued at $75,000.
The thefts are heightening awareness for teachers and staff of districts to keep track of new technology. More districts are purchasing devices like iPads as an alternative to laptop or desktop computers. For example, Garden City High School has iPads for every student this year, and can even use them to replace some text books.
The Wichita school district also has a few of the devices, but not a large number. Debbie McKenna, Executive Director of Safety Services for USD 259, says all technology is tagged, inventoried and locked away in special containers and locked buildings when not in use.
"We really talk with our staff about making sure their rooms are secure, making sure our buildings are all secure and also all our buildings are locked," said McKenna.
She says if a device like an iPad disappears, reports are made to both the district and Wichita police. She says, in addition to being marked, they also have information in the programs that show who the device is registered to and where it came from.
"I think anytime you hear a large number of thefts happening, or a specific item targeted, I think that raises awareness of the staff more, in terms of day-to-day or hour-by-hour need for them to make sure they know where those pieces of equipment are," said McKenna. "We've had similar things with projectors, laptops, things at various times that we've had larger numbers stolen from various buildings".
McKenna says the Wichita district has had some iPads for a few years, but only ever missed one or two. As for the case in Phillips County, the sheriff's department there says the theft remains under investigation.
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