DPS, prosecutor, law enforcement, computer theft recovery tactics lauded nationally

Nearly 400 laptops recovered since June 2009 

Detroit Public Schools has been identified as a national leader in the use of high tech law enforcement and computer tracking techniques to recover stolen educational technology equipment.

DPS is the only school district in the nation to have identified, disrupted, dismantled and successfully prosecuted an organized criminal group, according to the firm that markets the tracking product, Absolute Software. In September, 2010, ten subjects were charged with DPS thefts from several schools. Working with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, the DPS case has resulted in eight subjects pleading guilty. The other two are pending prosecution.

387 DPS laptop computers have been recovered since June 2009, a recovery rate of 20 percent that compares favorably nationally. DPS is one of seven major school districts using this software. Los Angeles Unified School District, with a student enrollment over 700,000 and a squad of several officers dedicated full time to the recovery of laptop thefts, has recovered 1,000 stolen laptops over 4 1/2 years. Using much less personnel, DPS has recovered nearly 400 in 2 1/2 years.

Detroit Public Schools Police Department and the DPS Office of Inspector General have worked on the computer theft cases.

“The Lo-jack feature embedded in all DPS laptops and netbooks by Absolute Software Corp affords local and federal investigators with a 21st century approach to investigate those responsible for theft of these devices,” said Wilbert V. Marsh, DPS Inspector General. “The Office of Inspector General and DPS Police Department will continue to use all available resources, including the Lo-jack feature and partnerships with local and federal law enforcement to address these thefts. Every laptop or netbook stolen from our schools deprives a student of an important tool needed to learn in the classroom and prepare them to compete in the global workplace. Our success rate using the Lo-jack feature is extremely high.”

The security tracking software is loaded as part of the original equipment setup on all Detroit Public Schools laptops and netbooks currently used under recent purchases. Called Computrace, the software allows organizations to monitor the whereabouts and status of their computers, enforce software policies, and protect sensitive data. When activated, it enables organizations to manage, recover and track their assets. If efforts are made to remove Computrace from a device, the persistent technology rebuilds itself and continues to function.


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