The pilot project was a 1000 home saturation of SelectaDNA Property Marking Kits in an area of South Auckland called Randwick Park. The project recorded a staggering reduction in burglary of 61.8% over a 6 month period.
Interestingly, there were three schools that fell inside the pilot area. They all experienced a 100% reduction in burglary. During the six months prior to the pilot, there had been 18 incidents reported across the schools.
Rotorua Schools had been experiencing a spike in burglary from their grounds in the months leading up to the Christmas break, and Police in the area identified SelectaDNA as a potential tool to thwart would-be offenders both over the Christmas break and moving forward.
As a retailer of SelectaDNA Property Marking Kits, the BNZ sponsored all 43 schools in the district to receive free kits. They were deployed by Police into schools just before they dispersed for year end.
Police reported a 45% reduction in activity after 6 months at those 43 schools, and SelectaDNA was again deemed a resounding success.
This begged the question. If those 1000 homes in Randwick Park and the 43 schools in Rotorua could achieve these results, what would happen if these schemes could branch out wider? What effect could Property Marking have on schools across the country?
And so the BNZ Safer Schools Programme was born.
Under the Police led banner of ‘Operation SNAP’, a scheme where Police work alongside corporate entities to halt the trade in stolen property, the BNZ committed to funding a nationwide programme where every Ministry of Education School would receive a free SelectaDNA Property Marking Kit, signage and additional stickers.
To date all North Island schools have been recipients of the SelectaDNA kits under the programme and 2013 sees all South Island Schools given the same opportunity to reduce the rates of burglary in their areas.
Statistically, the programme is working.
For 36 months we have been monitoring activity in Greater Auckland and Northland. Not only is reported incidents of burglary in Educational Facilities cut in half (601 incidents over a 6 month period down to only 303), but the results are being sustained, and this is the key to the programmes success.
Key stakeholders in the programme would like to take all the credit for the results being gained, but the BNZ Safer Schools Programme is only a part of an active approach to reducing crime in schools by the wider community.
Under the ‘Prevention First’ mandate introduced by Commissioner Peter Marshall, Police are using a range of intel led problem solving approaches to reducing burglary. They have researched which schools are the most vulnerable and identified which times and dates that they are at the highest risk.
As a result, Police have deployed staff to do foot patrols and mobile patrols during these risk times, and recidivist offenders who are known to burgle schools have been targeted. Some Police have also worked with the schools to increase lighting and security, and with neighbours of schools to encourage the reporting of suspicious behaviour.
But most importantly, schools and immediate school communities are taking control. Messaging from both the BNZ Safer Schools Programme and Police is empowering the schools to take a proactive approach to deterring theft from their community.
It was quickly recognised that the students themselves were the best vehicle for dissemination of information back into the community, and schools used newsletters and websites to alert potential thieves that they had used SelectaDNA and other prevention measures in their premises.
The harsh reality is that some of those very students spreading the prevention message are the ones who are committing the crime. An extremely pleasing consequence of the programme has been the halting of opportunistic theft of the ‘beginner burglar’. It is known that the beginner burglar, left to commit crime can become the next armed robber or worse. By stopping the lower level criminal act, we are changing their behaviour and the prospect of a brighter future for that individual is heightened.
Waikato Police recovered a computer that had been stolen from a local school and was able, not only return the property to the school (recovering the students saved work), but also confirm the item as being stolen and the offender having no rightful possession – all too often Police believe items to be stolen but without proof they cannot remove the items from the alleged offender.
While the number of incidents are decreasing, there are still improvements to be made.
With continued collaboration between the schools, Police and corporate, schools can remain the secure learning environments that are iconic to New Zealand, a place where students can be safe and feel safe.
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