Incident IQ

K-12 Workflow Management Blog

How To Prevent Asset Theft in K-12 Schools

Cartoon image of burglar grabbing a laptop

Each fall, millions of K-12 students return to school with their backpacks, textbooks, school supplies, and assigned school laptops in tow. Which one of these items do you think is the most likely to get lost or stolen?

The answer should be pretty clear—both mobile and fixed asset theft is an unfortunate and regular event in K-12 schools. In fact, a 2020 Mobile Theft and Loss Report released by Prey, Inc., an open-source anti-theft software provider, found it’s six times more likely that a device owner is pickpocketed at school or work than anywhere else.

Does this mean that your district’s fixed assets are doomed to be stolen or lost with no hope of recovery? We don’t think so.

In this article, we’ll show you how to implement technical, physical, and logical antitheft measures to prevent fixed asset theft in your K-12 school district, so your students can continue to get the most out of their laptops and other devices.

5 Tips for Better Fixed Asset Management

Before diving straight into the tips, it’s important to outline the goals behind your K-12 district’s fixed asset security plan. A comprehensive security plan should help your school IT team:

  • Discourage device theft
  • Track or locate fixed assets remotely
  • Respond to and take action against theft

With an organized asset management system and security protocols in place, K-12 IT teams can achieve all of the above and get total visibility over all the physical assets in their asset inventory.

So what tactics can your school’s IT team use to meet these requirements and keep your district assets safe? Let’s take a look.

Assign bar codes to all new assets

Barcodes, asset labels, and device serial numbers are all effective ways to prevent fixed asset theft because it signals to potential thieves that an asset is actively being tracked and monitored.

Using asset management and MDM software, all IT agents need to do is enter the serial number of a missing device and they’ll have access to its assigned owner, last login date, the school campus it was deployed to, and more. If a district asset has been reported as stolen or missing, or if there is suspicious activity surrounding its login data, these are all signs for your school IT team to take immediate action and secure the device.

For greater security, you can even have your district asset tags laser engraved. Not only does this prevent thieves from just ripping off a stick-on label, but it makes the device more difficult to sell, pawn, or trade-in.

Verify ownership at key points throughout the device lifecycle

It’s standard practice to conduct device audits throughout the school year. When auditing time rolls around, your IT agents can use asset management technology to verify the ownership of individual student devices like Chromebooks and school-assigned laptops.

However, if your district deploys thousands of student devices, it’s incredibly time-consuming to verify every single asset one by one—there simply aren’t enough team members on any IT team to verify an entire asset inventory within a reasonable time frame.

Instead, through the use of bar code scanning technology, your IT department can have teachers periodically audit student devices in the classroom throughout the year. Not only does this make the auditing workload more manageable, but it allows teachers to verify the device ownership of every student device in their classroom and easily report it back to the school IT team.

These periodic audits help districts avoid year-end inventory surprises and help teachers maintain device best practices in the classroom.

Remotely disable IT assets as needed

In the unfortunate event that a fixed asset in your district is lost or stolen, you’ll need a way to respond ASAP to protect sensitive school and student data. Using an MDM or school asset management tool, your K-12 IT agents can disable devices remotely and render them useless to anyone who tries to access them.

Disabled devices can easily be returned to their fully-functional state once they’re back in the hands of their assigned owner, but they’ll be worth nothing in the meantime, and can ward off potential thieves thinking of selling or pawning off stolen district devices.

Complete a physical inventory at the end of the year

Similar to conducting regular audits throughout the school year, your school IT teams can use their end-of-year asset inventory to check for lost or missing devices. However, this method can only work if your team is equipped with accurate asset reporting tools.

For example, if dozens of student devices were broken over the course of the school year, they would need to be categorized separately within your school inventory management system. Once your team has siloed these broken devices from the rest of your asset inventory, your team will be able to make an accurate assessment of how many deployed devices haven’t been collected.

Once these rogue devices have been identified, your IT team can send a message to their assigned owners reminding them to return their devices. Otherwise, your IT agents can simply disable them from within your asset management system.

Connect help ticketing with asset management

Several of the tactics listed above are great deterrents for fixed asset theft and can help protect your district’s investment in student technology. The only problem is that they all involve the use of several different software, systems, and IT tools.

Instead of switching between your district’s MDM, SIS, help ticketing, and asset management tools, K-12 IT teams can access all these tools in one, unified platform. At Incident IQ, we’ve designed a comprehensive K-12 IT service management solution that gives school IT teams access to their MDM and SIS of choice, as well as integrated help ticketing and asset management solutions.

Schedule a demo with one of our product experts to see how you can use integrated IT tools to prevent fixed asset theft in your school district.