Wednesday, April 25, 2012

iDevices Will Be Stolen. Have a Plan to be Prepared.

If your district has deployed iTouches, either you've had some stolen, or you will soon. iTouches are so small,and slip into a pocket quickly. In addition,they are highly coveted, and easy to resell. In the past few years my district has had a dozen iTouches stolen. Many of the thiefs were quite brazen, quickly walking in and out of a classroom that they did not belong in, and pocketing the device on the way. A few went so far as to enter a teacher's office and took the device straight from the teacher's desk. Most of the devices were not retrieved because we did not have a plan in place

Location on "Find My iPhone"
My office is tracking a stolen device as I type this. I anticipate that we will have both the culprit and the device by tomorrow. At this point, most users are familiar with the "Find My iPhone" app that Apple offers for free. This is the app we use, but it's important to have a plan beyond the app. My understanding is that the app will locate a device within 10-15 feet (when there is wifi present). However, as a school employee I can hardly go to a stranger's home and make accusations. From early on we have conversations with our school police officer about the the tools available to reliably track a iDevice.

Whenever we set up a device for a student or staff, I first assign the device a name such as jtignor @CHS AT001. This includes the user's first initial, and last name, school initials, and asset tag. We use iTunes for this step. Apple kindly engraves asset tags or names on the back of iTouches prior to shipping at no extra cost, and we always get the asset tag. Just ask them about it. Using iPhone Configuration, I record the user name, asset tag, and the serial number is automatically recorded as part of the record.

Now, if a device goes missing, using "Find My iPhone" I can find the device. I can initiate a high pitch, annoying alarm system,that will heard easily from within a locker or backpack. I can also remotely lock the device so it cannot easily be used. I also have the ability to send a message, such as: "this iTouch belongs the CHCCS. Please return it to the school system. Theft will be prosecuted".  Using "iPhone Configuration" I can provide law enforcement with the device's serial number and other pertinent information.

These are the pieces of our plan we put into place to help track down stolen or misplaced devices.

Options from within "Find My iPhone"
1. Maintain ONE "Find My iPhone" database that you load all your devices on, BEFORE they are assigned. We have roughly 60 iPads, and over 100 iTouches. The password should be shared with only a few select individuals. My colleague on the Assistive Technology team can access the information.
2. Make sure a responsible adult who works with the student has your contact information, and knows to contact you as soon as they know a device is missing. Time is a huge factor.
3. Maintain an up to date data base of the asset tag, the serial number, user name, and school site, which you can provide to the police. We use "iPhone Configuration" which is free from Apple.
4. Do not retrieve the item yourself. Collaborate with your school officer.

Now the hope is, as word gets out that we track stolen devices, students will not think of them as easy targets. Consequently, we will have less theft.  One final note, I use the plan for my family member's iDevices as well, as some folks are notorious for losing their iTouch.  Nothing like the ability to sound an alarm remotely to help end a lousy game of hide and seek.

Happy Therapy!

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