Burglary Deterrent Mimics Human Surveillance
Few schools can afford to hire security personnel for campus surveillance around the clock. But a new burglary deterrent product from Cross Point Industries is designed to make facilities appear to be staffed. The product, Ground Observing Reconnaissance Transmitter (GORT), is an automated system for outdoor use that detects activity, turns on a light and rotate the light to follow "intruders," giving the impression that a human operator is behind the controls watching and recording them.
The GORT unit includes a 500-watt halogen lamp, a CCTV camera mount, and connections for 12vdc camera power and video signal. It can detect and respond to movement within its area of coverage, and it supports CCTV cameras that are widely used in outdoor environments. When the unit detect movement, it shines a light in the direction of the target and follows that target as it moves around on the property.
Cross Point also offers wireless sensors that extend the reach of the GORT unit so it can detect and track activity up to 1,000 feet beyond a property's boundary. "When activated, the light will oscillate left and right and then back to the target to remind individuals that they have been detected and are being watched," according to the manufacturer. he company said the unit is designed for a wide variety of applications, including schools, residences and storage facilities.
It can also be wirelessly integrated with a Voice Alert receiver, which can deliver an audible announcement to security personnel.
GORT will debut later this month at the ISC West conference in Las Vegas, which is being held March 28 through 30. It's expected to be available for less than $2,500, including Voice Alert sensors.
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School Laptops Taken: South Oklahoma City School Targeted Repeatedly by Thieves
A South Oklahoma City school has been broken into at least 12 times in the last year, three times since Christmas break, with thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment being stolen.
More than $24,000 of equipment stolen this week hadn't even been used by students.
"We've had so many break-ins over the last year, I really can't remember [how many]," said Coolidge Elementary School Principal Sue Greenfield. "They [thieves] know what they are after."
Most of the items stolen over the past year were bought with MAPS for Kids technology money. Added to other property and equipment losses since January 2006, thefts have cost the school nearly $43,000.
While students and teachers were enjoying their Christmas break, burglars broke into the school three times. This week thieves pried open locked doors and broke windows to access the school's media center and administrative offices. That's where they stole laptop computers and flat screen monitors.
Coolidge isn't the only school that's been targeted, said Oklahoma City police Sgt. Gary Knight. Others recently burglarized include U.S. Grant High School, Arthur Elementary, and Van Buren Elementary, Greenfield said.
Greenfield said schools are attractive to thieves because they usually have the latest technology and learning tools for students.
According to police records, more crimes have been reported in the area surrounding Coolidge than nearly any other Oklahoma City elementary school. Between December 2004 and November 2005, more than 500 crimes were reported within a three-quarter mile radius of Coolidge, including one homicide, 214 assaults and 114 burglaries.
Oklahoma City Ward 4 Councilman Pete White, who represents the ward that includes Coolidge, said the area is not dangerous in general.
"If you'd drive through there you wouldn't feel unsafe. We don't think the burglary situation is widespread all over the neighborhood," White said.
Several parents and residents who live near the school were contacted for this story but declined to comment, citing fear of retaliation.
Officials Thursday and Friday were reviewing surveillance tapes to try to identify the thieves. Earlier in the year, the security tapes were stolen in another break-in.
Oklahoma City Schools' spokesman Cordell Jordan declined to give details on the school's security measures, citing safety reasons, but said the school's alarm system was functioning during the break-ins.
Many Coolidge students come from economically challenged families, with more than 90 percent qualifying for free- or reduced-price lunches. Nestled within a working-class south Oklahoma City neighborhood, the aging school is surrounded by homes valued mostly at $75,000 or less.
Most school windows have a thick metal grate or screen covering them. There is graffiti in the neighborhood and on the school's trash containers.
Voters five years ago passed the one-cent MAPS for Kids sales tax to improve Oklahoma City schools like Coolidge, which was built in the early 1950s. In addition to building updates, the initiative also has paid for buses and technology improvements.
Jordan said most of the equipment stolen from the school was bought with MAPS for Kids funds. Though the thefts were costly, they won't come close to meeting the district's property insurance deductible, which exceeds $500,000. That means district funds will have to be used to buy any replacements.
"It affects [students] very severely because a lot of these children don't have access to computers at home," Greenfield said. "When these items get stolen, a lot of these kids just have to do without."
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