Hopes that the new year would be better were dashed for Heathfield High School staff and learners after it was found the school had been vandalised on the first day back, Wednesday 15 January.Principal Wesley Neumann says the past six months are tainted by the numerous break-ins that have occurred.“An increase in theft and vandalism at Heathfield High School has amounted to hundreds of thousands of rands. This unfortunate state of affairs increased dramatically during the summer vacation when the school was unoccupied.”He adds that burglaries have continued despite the employment of a new armed-response company to keep the school safe.“All indications are that the perpetrators monitor the response teams and then continue with their activities – this is possible due to the large area the school occupies.”He says criminals access the school easily because the fence is broken. The thieves gain access to classrooms by breaking through the ceiling.“We have suffered tremendous losses which include sports equipment, maintenance equipment, damage to our consumer studies room, damage to stoves piping, geyser and cooking utensils. Also, the school’s borehole pump was stolen.”Ironically, Neumann says, the school is erroneously classified as a Quintile 5 school which means the school – with its limited funds – must find means to repair or replace the stolen and damaged equipment.He says the cost of the stolen items and vandalism is more than R350 000.“The damage to the classrooms renders the classes unfit for usage. A case in point is the damage to the consumer studies classroom which had all the stoves stripped of their wiring. Learners are now unable to do practical work in the subject.”Neumann appeals to the public to assist the school to get back on track. “Any persons able to assist with the repairs or restoration of the classrooms, please contact us.”Call the school on 021 715 4622 to assist.