Local News

Durham schools: Don't even think about stealing our computers

Posted April 22, 2009
Updated April 27, 2009

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— Don’t even think about stealing a computer from Durham Public Schools.

That's the message the school system has for potential thieves as officials announced Wednesday that they have installed tracking software on all of their 12,000 or so computers.

"(The software) enables the location of our computers to be traced," spokesman Michael Yarbrough wrote in a news release. "This effort is designed to minimize the impact of computer theft. Already, at least four stolen or lost computers have been traced using the software."

Computrace is an asset tracking, data protection and computer theft recovery system. With it on school desktops and laptops, the district can track their use, even after the computer is no longer on school property, Yarbrough said.

The program costs the school system $84,000 over three years, according to school officials.

When computers were stolen in the past, the district had little hope of recovering them, Chief Operating Officer Hank Hurd said. Now,  the school system can work with law enforcement to trace the computers and recover them.

“Installing Computrace on DPS computers for the 2008-09 school year was a part of our efforts to be as fiscally responsible as possible,” Hurd said. “Computers are a tool for teaching and learning, and we want every computer to be accounted for and in use. This tracking system enables us to do just that.”


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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Apr 22, 2009

    TomLynda, yes...and you are surely smart enough that you don't have to rely on theft to make a living.

  • TomLynda Apr 22, 2009

    I refurbish old computers to give to disadvantage families, and believe me, flashing a BIOS is easy. Way too easy.

  • mwray03 Apr 22, 2009

    Yes...and locks won't keep out a criminal either. This sounds like a good idea. It wouldn't stop the intelligent/determined criminal. But it may stop a few people from even trying it and it's already recovered 4 computers. I'm guessing if you know how to flash the bios and how to replace a hard-drive, then you'd probably not want to steal a computer due to having a few in your home. There is no pleasing some folks.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Apr 22, 2009

    Durham rocks. :-)

    Reflashing BIOS is a pain, even for computer people. Every little thing has to be correct. Criminals don't want to take the time and it ends up devaluing the "product".

  • T-Man Apr 22, 2009

    I think they posted the story in an attempt to discourage the thefts. I would imagine that the majority of computer thefts from schools are by students.

  • kindness4 Apr 22, 2009

    The sad part about this whole story is the lame computers they are trying to lift. I've seen the ones on the desks of the teaching staff at our local high school and for the re-sale value...they aren't worth it. I've seen better at Goodwill shops.

  • jprime Apr 22, 2009

    I was going to chime in at how easy this is to get by if you know its there, but apparently this bus is already full!

  • Hatchcover Apr 22, 2009

    discowhale - Beautiful! Like crayons melting in the sun.

  • discowhale Apr 22, 2009

    Uh, here's a hint, for the non-computer types, the software patch is ONLY traceable IF that computer is placed on the internet WITH the patch still installed. As commonsensical said, reflash the BIOS, and viola, there's a new computer at Little Johnnies house. And who knows how to reflash the BIOS? It's a task understood by at least 60% of teenagers in the country, and 100% of computer thieves.

    Especially IF they know the tracker was installed.

    Keeping quiet about this install would have been the way to go, but that train just left the station.

    (in our next story, the DCPSS and WRAL will tell us the password and ID to log into the computers that hold student grades)

  • TheBullCity Apr 22, 2009

    I'm pretty sure they are paying more for this than the cost of replacing stolen computers. Insurance would be even cheaper.