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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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Copper Thefts Prompt Added Security For Guam Schools
Wire stolen from 7 schools in December alone

By Louella Losinio

HAGTA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Dec. 20, 2012) – In light of the recent outbreak of copper wire thefts in the public schools, an emergency procurement was approved by Gov. Eddie Calvo yesterday, allowing the Guam Department of Education (GDOE) to expedite the procurement process for security measures.

GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez said within the next 30 days, the department will be procuring school security services as well as replace and install copper wires for schools affected by the thefts.

Deploying foot patrols at the schools is one of the security measures being considered. Starting today, GDOE will start working out the details of securing the service to protect the department’s assets at the school sites.

"We want to make sure that there is a physical presence at our schools especially during the night, over the weekends, and holidays," Fernandez said.

He added: "This will allow us to ensure that our classrooms are up and running when students return in the New Year. It will also allow us to increase the security throughout our system to include, but not be limited to, foot patrols."

Copper wire thieves struck seven schools this month, according to GDOE. The most recent incident occurred at Wettengel Elementary School, which lost approximately 3,500 to 4,000 feet of copper wire.

WES joined the list of schools in the northern villages hit hard by thieves. Finegayan Elementary School in Dededo, as well as Yigo-based FB Leon Guerrero and Simon Sanchez High School, were similarly targeted this month.

Other schools affected include D.L Perez Elementary School and Untalan Middle School.

The thieves stripped the copper wire from the electrical or air-conditioning system, causing either power or air-conditioning disruptions in the classrooms.

Around $70,000 is required to replace the copper wires. Although the department is still working on the details, Fernandez said they are exploring the possibility of using a combination of local and Department of Interior funding for the security measures and copper wire replacements.

"We will be increasing security in our school system with the use of these funds and with the ability to expedite the process with the governor’s declaration of emergency. We really thank the governor for supporting us and assisting us in this particular effort," Fernandez concluded.

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