Children break into schools
CHILDREN as young as nine have been caught breaking into schools on the Northern Rivers, highlighting a growing problem for police.
Richmond Local Area Command crime manager, Inspector Greg Moore, said schools were often seen as 'soft targets'.
He also said many of the offenders were teenagers and, in one incident recently, two nine-year-old girls broke into a school at Casino.
“We realise this is an emerging problem,” Insp Moore said. “In general it is young people associated with the school committing these offences.
“A lot of it is just petty stuff. Sometimes they steal the odd computer monitor, but it might be just food from the staff room. We're trying to improve our response to minimise the risks. We have done a lot over the past six months.”
Insp Moore said the 'action plan' had seen some success.
On Monday, an 18-year-old Casino man was arrested and charged with three break and enter offences at Casino Public School.
A Bonalbo 17-year-old was also charged with aggravated break and enter at Bonalbo Central School after he set fire to property at the school.
According to Insp Moore, schools are at risk because there are 'so many and some are in isolated areas'.
“Part of our action plan is we rely on nearby residents for an early warning system,” he said.
“Sometimes residents can be a bit complacent and people who are seen on the school grounds don't get questioned.
“We want to get the message out there that schools are not as much as a soft target as people might think.”
The strategy involves the use of CCTV, which Insp Moore said was 'gold'.
“We are identifying the high-risk locations and it (CCTV) is becoming a tool that we are using,” he said. “However, alarm systems are more common and many schools are upgrading them.”
Some are also installing high fences, and more police patrols are being done near schools.
Anyone who notices suspicious activity at schools should call the nearest police station. Information can be given anonymously.