TPS working to stop crime at schools

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Reported by: Preston Jones
Updated: 7/17/2013 5:28 pm Published: 7/17/2013 5:09 pm

Tulsa Public Schools leaders are making sure thieves stay away.

A crook stole metal and copper from 13 air conditioner units at the vacant Alcott Elementary.

That school will reopen next month as McLain Seventh Grade Academy. To get ready for students, the district is repairing the AC units, which costs about $33,000 plus labor.

Ronald French is excited to see the McLain Academy parking lot full of construction trucks and crews hard at work.

"You got so many schools closing down on north Tulsa, and they're revitalizing it a little bit," he said.

On top of rebuilding the school they're also replacing the AC units.

Tulsa Campus Police Chief Gary Ruddick said he's not surprised someone stole the copper.

"Any empty building, whether a school building or anything else, if the perception is that nobody cares about the building, there's a high probability for vandalism and mischief," he said.

Security cameras are already in place at the school.

"Security cameras don't prevent a lot of crime, it helps you after the crime," he said.

So to really fix the problem, installation is underway for low pressure alarms on every AC unit.

"As soon as that freon goes down, for any reason, a leak, or whether someone cuts the line, it gives us a switch," he said.

Then campus police get a call where they can see the activity through the cameras.

It's all to make this revamped school safe and secure.

"I think it's great because I loved it when I went there," said French.

Ruddick told FOX23 he hasn't seen any other copper theft in any of the Tulsa Public Schools in the past year and he stressed if it does happen again, police will quickly find out.

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