Thieves are targeting children carrying school-issued iPads to and from school in the Clark County school district in Nevada, according to local police.
Although educators praise iPads for raising student engagement and possibly academic achievement, local law-enforcement officials are concerned these $400 pieces of equipment could pose a new safety hazard for students.
In September, the 311,000-student Clark County district launched a $2.5 million iPad program, putting more than 7,000 tablet computers into the hands of students and staff members at five low-income middle schools.
The idea behind the Engage, Empower, Explore (E3) program is to level the technological playing field for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Students who otherwise may not have a computer at home could use the iPad to complete homework assignments and access technology outside of school.
“These educational tools keep students more engaged and working collaboratively,” says Jhone Ebert, the district’s chief technology officer. “It’s phenomenal.”
But local police officials say they are now seeing a troubling trend with this new technology.
“We have seen a definite rise in incidents of students—visibly carrying these iPads or perceived to be carrying iPads—being targeted by criminals for theft,” says Bill Cassell, a spokesman for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. “So far, we don’t believe any children have been injured, but we are very concerned that this situation could escalate.”
Cassell says he could not comment on the prevalence of iPad thefts because the police department doesn’t have a database tracking the number of Clark County district-issued iPads that have been stolen since the program started.
However, 83 iPads have been stolen from students this year, according to school district officials. This represents a little more than 1 percent of the 7,235 iPads issued as part of the E3 program.
A version of this article appeared in the June 12, 2013 edition of Digital Directions as School-Issued iPads Are Targets for Thieves