CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Thieves escape with more than £4k after raiding school safe

Police stumped by lack of CCTV and no forensics

25 October, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

THIEVES have raided a primary school’s safe and taken more than £4,000 raised by children and parents at a summer fair and cake-bake sale.

The heist happened at Brookfield School in Highgate, prompting an extensive police investigation. So far the callous burglars, who managed to take £4,200 in cash from the school’s safe, have not been identified.

The New Journal has learned they broke in last month without leaving enough forensic evidence for police to make arrests or being spotted by the school’s CCTV system.

In a letter to parents, headteacher Mark Stubbings vowed resources for pupils would not suffer from the Parents and Teachers Association losing such a large sum of money.

He added: “Naturally, we are absolutely devastated and shocked – particularly as this has never happened here before. We reported the theft to the police as soon as we became aware of it and Camden Council’s audit office were also alerted. Unfortunately, the police investigation has so far proved inconclusive due to lack of CCTV, forensic and other evidence.”

The school in Chester Road has now put in place new security procedures and hope to replace the money by hiring the building out for events and through donations from concerned parents.

Mr Stubbings added: “As we know how incredibly hard the PTA and the whole school community has worked to raise this money, the governors have agreed to fully compensate for the loss of this money from additional income generated by hiring the school building out.”

And the council have sent an audit team to the school to help them re-think their security arrangements, recommending that cash from events is banked as soon as possible, new security arrangements are put in place, and a log book is used for anyone with access to the safe to fill in each time it is opened.

A Town Hall spokesman said: “The council’s audit office was informed by the school of this incident, in accordance with the correct procedure regarding serious financial mismanagement or theft, and we conducted a thorough investigation. This was undertaken at the same time as a police investigation. Our report recommended several changes to the school’s procedures, which have already been implemented. They include ensuring cash is banked as soon as possible, tightening up security arrangements to the safe and room and having a log book to record access to the safe.”

He added: “While it would appear impossible to recover the missing money, the school has been advised to do everything it can to ensure such an incident does not happen again and the council is satisfied that they have taken the necessary steps to do so. We also understand that parents from Brookfield PTA have generously started a further fundraising campaign to help replace the missing money.”

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