What’s that noise? Unusual tool banishes pesky would-be vandals
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Whine, audible just to kids, may solve expensive problem

Robert Barron, Daily News

Published: Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Devices that emit highly irritating sounds that can only be heard by young people should be in place within weeks in two Nanaimo schools, in an effort to deal with the high costs of vandalism in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district.

Rock City and Uplands elementary schools have been chosen to participate in the $8,000 pilot project, if the school board gives it a green light to proceed this week, that would soon see “Mosquito” devices installed to prevent loitering and vandalism from taking place at the schools.

The devices emit a high-pitched, mosquito-like whine through a small speaker that can generally only be heard by those between the ages of 13 and 25.

The devices are currently being used in a number of other school districts in B.C., as well as at the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre, with proven results.

With vandalism costing about $140,000 per year in this district, and with Rock City and Uplands having a higher number of instances than most district schools over the past year, staff members recommend that these two schools be used in the pilot project.

Sharon Welch, chairwoman of the district’s anti-vandalism committee, said if the project is successful at the two schools, she expects more of the devices will be positioned at other schools.

“It should be pointed out that, despite some concerns out there that these devices are potentially damaging to kids’ hearing, it’s not the case,” Welch said.

“They just irritate young people and encourage them to move on. As well, they’ll only be used from 10 p.m. at night until the early morning hours so students won’t be exposed to them during the school day.”

Mark Demecha, a spokesman for the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre, said the facility had an ongoing problem with youth “hanging around” its doors until a Mosquito device was installed two years ago.

He said since that time, the number of kids hanging around outside the doors at NAC has decreased dramatically.

“We used to have to get our lifeguards and managers to go outside and make these kids move along until we installed the device,” Demecha said.

“Now most kids feel uncomfortable having to listen to that high-pitched sound and leave the area. I can hear it if I listen real closely, but apparently not as well as the kids, so we’re pretty pleased with the results so far. It’s not expensive and it gets the job done.”

The district’s anti-vandalism committee is also developing a community-based awareness campaign to help fight vandalism at its schools.

The school board gave approval last spring for the district to participate in a community art project designed to give graffiti artists the opportunity to create a large-scale community art work instead of defacing schools.

Welch said the committee is also working to form partnerships with the City of Nanaimo, RCMP, Crime Stoppers and the John Howard Society to deal with vandalism issues.

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– Broken windows, smashed doors and other forms of vandalism at the district’s facilities cost about $140,000 a year

u Graffiti repair costs the City of Nanaimo an estimated $130,00 annually

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