The plan to put an iPad in the hands of every fourth through eighth-grader in Rock Hill was a monumental effort by the community and the Rock Hill School District. Roughly 4,000 of the devices were bought, but word of several major thefts has school officials and parents concerned.
Twenty two iPads were reported missing from the children's school at Sylvia circle in August. Twenty-six more have disappeared in the last few days from South Pointe High School.
At South Pointe, the iPads were kept in a vault, and police said there were no signs of forced entry.
Dianne Watson was among the parents shocked to hear about the thefts.
"That's insane to me for one. And two, who's going to be held responsible for that?" she said.
Associate superintendent for planning Luanne Kokolis said the district is still very hopeful that the missing iPads will be recovered and returned. She sent Channel 9 this email in response to our questions.
"All principals have been very diligent in protecting all of our assets and they are securing devices in locked areas with limited access. In these two isolated incidents we have theft of our assets. Each case is under investigation with the police department. We are hopeful as they pursue leads we will recover the devices. In the latest case, the devices were secured and we experienced a break in to secured area. Much progress is being made in the elementary incident and we expect the same with the South Pointe recovery of our assets."
Rock Hill police have put the serial numbers of all the missing iPads into a national crime database. They also have officers checking pawn shops, and looking online at places like eBay as well, said Officer Mark Bollinger.
"One of our detectives even went up to the flea markets over the weekend. In York County, Mecklenburg and Gaston County, to just walk through the flea markets and see if anybody had any iPads for sale, and if they might be ours," he said.
Parents however, said after two incidents with nearly 50 iPads taken, at $500 apiece, more should be done. "I don't know what's going on with the schools, but maybe they need to take a look at their staff probably, I don't know, or their security measures," Watson said.
Before school officials gave out iPads to students, parents were required to attend a training course. They expect to give out all the remaining iPads to students by the end of the week.
Right now, the loss from the missing iPads is about $25,000. An insurance claim will have to be filed if they are not recovered.