Belfast Telegraph

Thieves target Derry college three times in a week

By Brendan McDaid

Security is being ramped up at a Londonderry school which has suffered three break-ins in the past week.

Western Education and Library Board chiefs were yesterday meeting staff from the Immaculate Conception College in Londonderry to discuss security improvements at the school. The Trench Road College has already taken steps following the break-ins last week.

In the latest incident of vandalism on Saturday morning, thieves cut through a metal grid over a window to gain access to the office of a member of senior management.

They smashed the reinforced glass window and ripped out and stole a safe which had been affixed to a wall and which contained a sum of cash.

Principal of the Catholic mixed boys and girls college, Frankie Orr, said that the window had been hit with a force similar to a sledge hammer.

He confirmed that staff arrived at school last Monday and Tuesday to find two different classrooms had been broken into and ransacked.

In the first incident, a window was prised open to gain access, while the second time the window was smashed.

The attacks come two months after a similar attack in which wire grids were again bypassed by thieves who made off with a laptop.

Mr Orr said that the main financial cost this time was the repair bill for the damage.

“Money in education is quite tight and the money needed to deal with this would have been better spent on education of the children,” he said.

“Apart from the financial cost the big problem is that we are now approaching GCSE and A-level exams and these classrooms are being taken out of use for at least a morning, maybe longer.”

Mr Orr added that the school has carried out its own safety review and was already taking additional measures to safeguard against future attacks.

Sinn Fein councillor for the Gobnascale area, Lynn Fleming, said local people were disgusted by the latest break-ins and vandalism at the school.

“These attacks have now left the school with a hefty repair bill, not to mention the upset to staff and pupils,” Ms Fleming said.

“Schools are centres of our communities and provide not just education for our children but also services for families, after-schools projects, and outreach to the wider community.

“I would urge anyone with information on those responsible for these break-ins to contact the police.”

Detectives have urged anyone who witnessed anything suspicious at the school or who does so in the future to contact police.

Anyone with information should contact detectives at Strand Road station on 0845 600 8000 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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