Tips for Churches to Minimize Chance of Burglary, Arson

Post a Comment » Written on November 24th, 2008     
Filed under: News
MINNEAPOLIS, MN (November 24, 2008) – The office manager for Crosstown Covenant Church is thankful that only money was stolen from the church offices during a recent break-in.

“They walked by all kinds of electronics they could have taken,” says the manager.

The church was burglarized the evening of November 16. Police told the church that it was one of nine in the precinct to be burglarized since November 2. In each incident, the burglars appeared to be interested primarily in money.

Whoever broke into the church did so by removing a grate that covered a trench outside a basement window, the manager said. They then shattered the window. According to local new reports, police have no suspects.

The church is one of several Covenant churches to be burglarized in recent years. Most of the burglars were arrested, but no one has been caught in connection with the theft of a Warner Sallman charcoal drawing from First Covenant Church in Omaha, Nebraska. The drawing and other items were stolen in 2007.

According to one insurance company’s website, 4,500 churches are burglarized each year with the average loss estimated at $2,000. Also one in four fires at churches are judged to be arsons.

Experts say there are steps that churches can take to reduce the likelihood of burglary and arson:
•    Do not label keys and restrict access. Churches should keep records of everyone who has a key, and anyone no longer needing keys should be required to return them.
•    Install adequate lighting near doors, parking lots, and the rear of buildings. Use a timer or light-sensitive switch to ensure that the lights will be turned on even if someone forgets.
•    Put several interior lights on a timer so that they are on during evening hours.
•    Maintain landscaping to make sure there is nowhere for burglars to hide.
•    Prune tree limbs to prevent access to roofs or second-story windows. Also avoid using large stones in landscaping that may be used by vandals to break nearby windows.
•    Keep an accurate schedule of everyone who is using the facilities.
•    Develop building use agreements for outside organizations that signify they assume responsibility for any property damage or personal injury resulting from their use of the facility.
•    Install an alarm system after evaluating what other local churches use and speaking with multiple security firms.
•    Keep trash containers away from buildings, as they often contain combustible items.
•    Do not store flammable liquids on church property. If there is no alternative, make sure all flammables are securely locked.

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