The number of thefts of technological devices at local schools has shot up as smartphones have become more prevalent.
Capt. Pat Yoes, public information officer with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, said the trend has been ongoing for the past few years.
“(Students) are bringing something to school, they are not watching it and it is disappearing. That’s the gist of it. When they started allowing them to bring technology to school, we saw an increase in the amount of thefts,” he said.
The majority of those thefts are occurring at Hahnville High School, but there are also reports coming from other schools as well.
The items stolen can be worth upwards of $500 and are easily hidden due to their small size.
According to theft reports released by the Sheriff’s Office, thousands of dollars worth of electronics, including at least three iPads, eight cell phones, a laptop and an iPad keyboard case, have been stolen at Hahnville High School since the beginning of the school year.
Last year, 23 cell phones went missing at Hahnville while three were stolen from students at Destrehan High School.No arrests were made in connection with any of the school thefts.
Yoes said while the Sheriff’s Office has a resource officer posted at every school, it is difficult for them to track the thefts that are occurring.
“If the resource officer sees someone stealing stuff of course he is going handle that,” he said. “But you are talking 1,500 to 1,600 kids at a school. He is not there to watch everybody’s phones. When you are bringing things of that kind of value to school, people are going to take advantage of it.”
Yoes said the only way to ensure that student devices are safe is if they do not bring them to school at all or keep a very close eye on them.
“If you can, try not to bring something of such great value to some place where you know you are going to have trouble securing it. Either that or keep it on your person,” he said.
Outside of that, Yoes said downloading tracking apps, which can tell the owner where the stolen devices are located, can help law enforcement.
Stevie Crovetto, director of public information for St. Charles Parish Public Schools, said the types of electronics being stolen are a necessary part of the learning environment in some cases because they are used for lesson plans.
“A big part of that is learning communication skills and learning how to communicate with people. Now communication is taking place moreso through text and email,” she said. “We just think it is a good opportunity our students have because it is still prevalent across the country and nation.”
Kade Rogers, coordinator of safety, security and emergency preparedness for St. Charles Parish Public Schools, said students have a responsibility to keep their devices secured at all times.
“The more technology brought on campus that is not secured, the more that they have an opportunity for the theft to occur. By no means are we condoning this and we’re not trying to turn a blind eye to it. We are aware that it is going on and we are trying to do everything, just as the sheriff does in the community, to prevent it from happening,” he said.
Rogers said similar thefts are happening at school districts across the country.
“This is happening wherever cell phones, iPads or any devices are allowed to be brought to school. It’s not a unique situation,” he said.
The school representatives say that despite the thefts, they do not have any plans to change school policies in regards to the devices.
Crovetto said the best thing is for everyone to work together on preventing theft.
“We encourage everybody to be mindful of their devices and to come to us with any instances of theft,” she said.