Colleges and universities are being targeted by gangs of thieves on the lookout for scarce memory chips worth up to Pounds 800 each, writes Alison Utley.
John Heap, head of computing services at Leeds Metropolitan University, which was recently raided in the middle of the night, said he believed a number of universities had been hit. "The thieves know universities will have significant numbers of PCs," he said. "They may even be using the Computer Users Yearbook to discover the number of terminals on a particular site."
The university is now improving security with tamperproof devices and alarms after shelling out Pounds 26,000 to cover the cost of lost chips and damaged equipment.
Barnsley College was another recent victim. Principal David Eade said thieves cut through metal bars at the college's Huddersfield Road Science Learning Base. He said the chips would cost Pounds 800 each to replace.
Mr Heap said the crime wave was a new phenomenon. Memory chips were in short supply because new Windows 95 technology required significantly more memory than previous software packages.