Safeguard Your Church Against Theft

Do you have valuables on display in your church? Perhaps you have valuables stored in a chalice or room within the church? If so, you need to take precautions because churches are the target of thieves as well.

On Thursday 24th July 2014, Victoria Police reported jewellery worth more than $100,000 was stolen from a Greek Orthodox Church in Red Hill.

The offenders broke into a sealed glass box which contained an icon of the Virgin Mary and a large quantity of gold jewellery. They smashed the glass and fled with the contents which included rings, chains, bracelets, coins, and crosses which had been donated to the church since 1987.

As this burglary illustrates, church organisations are not immune from crime. Parishes with valuables on display, or stored within the church need to be vigilant and take a proactive risk management approach in order to limit opportunities for thieves.

What do I need to do?

1. Know your risks
Identify and take note of the artefacts and valuables you have on display and stored throughout your buildings. Once all valuables have been identified, determine the likelihood of theft/ burglary of these items.

2. Implement risk controls
Below is a list of common property risk controls for Catholic organisations to consider:

  • Ensure valuables are stored away securely and kept out of sight after hours.

  • Ensure valuables are adequately insured.

  • Develop a formalised procedure for regular proactive inspections to identify property risks such as burglary/theft.

  • Allocate the responsibility of assets, keys and buildings to a nominated property management representative.

  • Develop a procedure for key management for your parish i.e. a key register for sign in/out of keys. Store spare keys in a locked cabinet or safe.

  • Develop and maintain an asset register - ensure that all rare and precious items are itemised and photographed.

  • Ensure valuables are stored away securely and kept out of sight after hours.

  • Where items are locked away in storage rooms with windows and skylights nearby, install security bars/grilles.

  • Ensure the church is secured after hours.

  • Ask neighbours to report suspicious activity to the police.

  • Ensure trees and shrubs are regularly trimmed to improve surveillance into the property.

  • Ensure ladders and wheelie bins are stored in a locked area after hours so they can’t be used to gain access.

  • Ensure doors, windows, locks and gates are operating effectively.

  • Encourage the authorised use of the organisation’s facilities after hours to increase
    surveillance of the property.

  • Incorporate security lighting around the church as well as the engagement of an external
    security company to conduct regular patrols after hours.

Posted: 27 August 2014

Topic: Property Protection

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