POLICE have helped schools in South Gloucestershire stay safe from burglars this Christmas.

Officers have been issuing advice to secondary schools which are known to have been targeted by thieves looking for computer equipment, especially the desirable Apple brand.

Community safety officer PC Dave Ashford said: "We have offered every single secondary school in South Gloucestershire a security survey, giving them advice tailored to their individual needs.

"Schools had been worried that practical security measures like marking their hardware might invalidate their warranties, but we've worked with the manufacturers and suppliers to make sure marking computers and fixing them to desks won't be a problem."

PC Ashford secured funding for kits to enable schools to mark their equipment permanently and visibly, to make sure their valuable assets don't become a Christmas present for thieves.

School computers are also set up so that they are disabled and useless when disconnected from their network.

PC Ashford said: "People are always looking out for bargains, especially as Christmas is coming. If you are thinking of buying anything second-hand, please make sure the seller is genuine.

"If you have any doubts or suspicions about a second-hand seller get in touch with us on 101. If you buy an item knowing or believing it to have been stolen, you commit an offence. And even if you buy it in good faith, you run the risk of having it seized by police and of course, losing your money."

Chipping Sodbury School has been quick to adopt PC Ashford's advice.

Business manager Richard Blacker said: "We're very grateful to the police for helping us keep our technology safe from thieves.

"We are determined to ensure that our students' futures are not put at risk by criminals. Our computers are all clearly marked with the school's name, bolted to desks and stored securely."

Schools are also being encouraged to register their equipment with www.immobilise.com – the free national property database checked by police across the country.