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Three High School Students Held Up at Gunpoint For Their Laptops at a Bus Stop

| August 31, 2013

Macbooks make for tasty targets. (Josh Bancroft)

Macbooks make for tasty targets. (Josh Bancroft)

One of the reasons gun owners are opposed to having their identity revealed is that it might give burglars a roadmap to their firearms. The same fear has not spread to high-priced electronics even as school districts, including Flagler County’s, are increasingly arming their students with nearly $1,000 laptops and lesser-priced tablets, and advertising the fact broadly.

Earlier this week, three high school students were robbed at gunpoint of their Macbook Air laptops at a bus stop in Ocoee, in Orange County. The computers had been issued to the students as part of a pilot program.

“The students all had their computers out in the open,” reported. “The school is now warning them to keep the laptops out of plain site when they’re not in the classroom.

In July, the Flagler County School Board approved a $3.2 million, five-year plan to put a Macbook laptop or an iPad tablet in the hands of virtually every one of the district’s nearly 13,000 students, at the district’s expense. The district is in the midst of distributing the laptops to all high school students this year, with a rollout expected to be completed by mid to late September. The plan is part of a larger, $4 million-a-year technology initiative in the district.

Parents may opt their children out of the program. Otherwise they are responsible for a $50 annual “technology liability fee.”

Security advice, however, has been scant, and limited to a few common sense tips.

“Anytime a device is transported, even between classes, it must be in the case provided to the student,” the district’s “digital learning handbook” states. “Do not use the device while riding on the bus.  Do not leave the device in visible sight inside a vehicle.” The rest of the handbook outlines the responsibilities of the district, students and parents, tips about online safety and two pages about misuses, but no information or guidelines about how to keep the hardware safe from would-be robbers.

The district is still developing its policies and guidelines regarding the initiative, which has sped through several milestones without being rigorously thought out. (See the draft guidelines below.)

Flagler County Digital Learning Handbook

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26 Responses for “Three High School Students Held Up at Gunpoint For Their Laptops at a Bus Stop”

  1. Florida Native says:

    This is going to get even worse when the wild wild west’s er….Palm Coast’s several thousand students are all walking around with their free laptops. Let the crime spree begin.

  2. Shocked, I tell you... says:

    Swell. Force it on us, put the kids in danger and then make the parents responsible, not the school….or in the case of Common Core, the federal government.

    Anymore ingenious ideas?

    How can we expect our kids to learn and achieve when our School Board and politicians don’t have any brains?

  3. m&m says:

    Is it possible that the parents insured the laptop and sells it on e-bay collect that money plus the insurance money and the school replaces it..

  4. Sherry Epley says:

    Again. . . let’s blame it all on President Obama. . . OMG! That Federal government forced our school district to give every kid a MAC IPAD, and then forced criminals to rob them. PLEASE! The sun sat today. . . no more sunshine . . .is that also President Obama’s fault?

    • Bill says:

      I guess I missed the part about anyone blaming it on 0bama

    • NortonSmitty says:

      Sherry, I consider this an uplifting story. It shows how far we have advanced. Under President Obamas leadership, we have a much better educated class of criminals than in the Bush administration when they only stole a students Nike Shoes at gunpoint.

  5. Out of Curiosity says:

    How many students have iPhones? Aren’t people being robbed for those too?

    • A.S.F. says:

      @Out of curiosity says: Good point! let’s turn back the clock and make the kids use smoke signals! That’lll solve THAT problem! Seriously, can’t these laptops be equipped with some kind of serial number and/or tracking device that would make them less appealingand profitable targets for thieves? Aren’t security codes and passwords built into them anyway?

  6. Jack Howell says:

    I do see this scenario taking place in Flagler as drugs and thugs will make it happen as it is easy pickings for these thugs. (Please forgive me for using the word thug as it may not be Politically Correct and offend some.) I am afraid somebody may suffer bodily harm defending his/her computer. The other point on this is that it will be , if not already, common knowledge that all Flagler students will have laptops in their possession.

    School Board members may want to revisit this as it was not a well thought out decision. I see this program as a major nightmare as laptops will be broken, lost, stolen etc. I understand the concept and the fact that there is some kind of insurance program to cover the loss/damaged computers. Forget about holding parents responsible and accountable as many of the parents have no clue what responsibility or accountability is or even how to spell them! The school administrators better put their heads together and figure a better way to control these computers as they are school property. Writing off losses is not an option.

    • George Price says:

      If two (2) buses can be stolen from the locked compound with cameras, what do you expect for the individual computers????

  7. brian says:

    i told you this would happen months ago and this is just the tip of the ice berg

    wow these school boards are beyond stupid…they have now put your kids in harms way…

    and just wait until one of the kids gets shot or killed..

    lock them up at school, the kids dont do their homework anyway..create a study hall for all homework!!

  8. Outsider says:

    I’m still trying to figure out how a school district that was just recently so strapped for cash it was threatening shutting down schools suddenly found an extra five and a half million dollars for laptops….in such a short time, no less.

    [The money for technology was approved twice by voters, by quite large margins, as a half-cent sales tax supplement, the last time in August 2012. The levy was specifically designated for technology in schools, and therefore may not be spent differently.–FL]

  9. Yellowstone says:

    Parents: What do you think the life expectancy of your child would be if you send him off to walk to school with a Rolex on his wrist?

    Telling a kid to ‘secure’ his lifeline to all things social is like asking him to clean his room! It’s not ‘gunna’ happen.

    I saw this same scenario in Georgia and the only recourse was to wait until the PC logged on somewhere then they had a idea where the PC went. You know now that kind of technology can be easily overwritten by a geeky middle-schooler.

    I, too, am surprised that this expected problem wasn’t discussed and risk management was not applied. Maybe it was – but what a mistake!

    You’re going to have to chain this expensive learning toy to each student – and hope you don’t lose both.

    Hey, I forgot. “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun!” Give every kid, and teacher, a weapon.

  10. I/M/O says:

    These school laptops can be traced via electronic means even when thy are turned off.

    Criminals have to be insane to steal them.

    But be my guest if you want the Sheriff knocking at your door.

    • NortonSmitty says:

      Every computer has a unique ID# that will show up immediately as stolen the first time it connects to the internet. This should make them worthless to the criminal who is not a complete idiot. I do not believe anyone who will risk a mandatory 10 year armed robbery prison sentence for a hot, traceable $100 laptop falls into that category. It’s a 21st century version of Darwins Thinning The Herd theory. Unless there is a Divine Intervention in prison, they will not be passing on their contributions to the shallow end of the gene pool anytime soon.

      • Your not as smart as u think says:

        To Nortonsecurity.
        Your comment would be correct except….most of the cell phones, tablets, and computers are now being sold overseas. There are numerous criminals in the area paying top dollars for these computers and then sending them to Russia where they are worth 3 times what they sell for retail here. Speaking of Darwin…make sure you know what your talking about before you speak. I work in this area of investigations. The poor kids carrying these computers are a easy mark and someone will get hurt..remember hearing about the starter jackets in the 80s and 90s?

    • brian says:

      well i’m sure the kids wont be too traumatized from being held up or shot!!! nice comment ace!!

  11. Sherry Epley says:

    It seems to me that all the expensive technical tools purchased with our tax dollars should be left “secured” on school property, except under special circumstances. These are not just pencils and papers, or even books. . . and there is a risk in carrying them around.

  12. agnese says:

    Did’nt take long

  13. Christopher V. says:

    This never happened to me many years age, but all I had was a $1 notebook and pen. Do school kids today really need laptops?

  14. confidential says:

    These computers endanger the students lives outside school, at least. Computers should be used and left at school in the care and responsibility of the school administrators. Laptop related work and assignments should be done in school only. So parents are not responsible for the $50 insurance and kids lives are not at risk.
    Please Norton, do not blame POTUS for this issue too!

  15. BW says:

    This is a strange story I have to say. I think it’s a good idea to bring attention to safety, but in all honesty a lot of people are walking around with expensive devices and not being robbed at gun point on a grand scale. I do agree that the schools locally haven’t done a stellar job with this tech roll out and the “policy” is lacking. “Don’t use on the bus”? If the student has a print book they can read that on the bus, but if the book is in digital format on their device they can not view it on the bus? If their work is on paper they can write and work on it on the bus, but if their work is on their laptop they can not work on it on the bus?

  16. ryan says:

    This is what happens when the criminals of New York, New Jersey, and from around the state of Florida all flock in one place, Flagler County. Then no one has the courage to put the blame where it belongs. This is what happens when people are too preoccupied complaining about too many yard sales and speeders. It keeps them distracted while the real criminal element gets to run rampant. It’s bad enough that most around town have no common courtesy or sense of being neighborly, but the criminals that have flooded here really makes living here pretty crappy.

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