Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
In the 2019-2020 school year, $118,680 worth of property was reported as missing or stolen from Albuquerque Public Schools.
An itemized draft report was presented Tuesday during the Board of Education Audit Committee meeting, which listed items ranging from a $10 umbrella to a $15,000 catalytic converter from APS transportation. The information was gleaned from APS School Police reports.
Thefts of four catalytic converters on the report were a hefty blow, totaling $26,000.
Acting Superintendent Scott Elder said APS’ bus lot has been a big target.
“Most of them are actually from the bus lot. We’re getting hammered down on Menaul,” he said, adding that more catalytic converters have been stolen recently.
District spokeswoman Monica Armenta told the Journal on Wednesday that over the last week or so someone damaged 15 school buses and on 11 of those buses, she said, the catalytic converters were removed and stolen, costing up to $150,000 in total damage.
The district is reviewing security camera footage from the bus yard at 2401 Menaul NE and has reported the incidents to law enforcement. Anyone with information is asked to call APS police.
Elder said the district is working on ramping up security. Eventually, transportation will be moved to a new location, which was already in the works.
Technology was also targeted, the 2019-20 report shows. At Sandia High School, 24 iPads totalled $12,000 and another 14 iPads at Manzano High School tallied up to $9,786. And computers and laptops reported as missing or stolen from across the district cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Chief Information and Strategy Officer Richard Bowman said all the Chromebooks in APS have theft recovery and tracking software and can be remotely disabled. Other laptops and iPads also have software but are harder to lock down, he said.
There were also small-ticket items – some with costs that barely reached double digits.
For instance, a $10 hula hoop and a $10 jump-rope were reported stolen. And there were 50 rolls of toilet paper – at $1 a roll – that were listed.
The total price tag of missing and stolen items is slightly up from last year. In 2018-2019, the total was $99,185, while two years ago the total was $116,214.
“The reality is the city is facing some larger issues that don’t necessarily involve the schools directly – issues of drug abuse and homelessness. (There are) large buildings that have a lot of equipment in them that people find attractive. We’ve increased our cameras and they really work much better,” Elder said. The district leader also said all schools have alarms.