Rural crime experts in North Yorkshire are sharing security advice with churches and other places of worship, after a break-in in York.
PCSO Caroline Saville, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “Sadly, the welcoming nature of churches and other places of worship makes them vulnerable to thieves who can take advantage of them being open and unattended.
“The design and function of these buildings makes security measures more complicated, but there are some effective and low-cost steps that can be followed to reduce the risk.
“Small valuable items should be stored away in a locked vestry, cupboard, safe or strong room when not in use during the week. Valuables, including communion plates, which are not in regular use should be deposited in the bank. Wooden or base metal substitutes for altarware can be displayed, and the originals locked away. They can be returned for services and events.
“Consider discreetly chaining larger items of antique furniture or valuables to the floor or wall. This may not deter the determined thief – but could be enough to thwart an opportunist criminal.
“Any offertory boxes or charity collections should ideally be emptied daily, and a notice displayed on the box indicating this.
“The building should be secured by good quality locks and bars at the windows (vulnerable stained glass windows can be protected externally by polycarbonate sheet). All locks should conform to BS 3621, or higher, specification. The keys should be kept by a responsible person or in a secure place away from the church.
“Should the worst happen, and the building is targeted by criminals, it will greatly help us if you have a log and photographs of all property, ideally stored in a safe place away from the church. When taking photographs, it’s a good idea to use a coin, such as a 50p, to indicate size.
“Finally, and most importantly of all, the community should be vigilant, and report any suspicious activity to the police right away. By acting as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the police, local residents can help protect churches and other historic buildings for future generations.”
The security warning follows a burglary at St Wulstan’s Church on Fossway, York, between Monday 20 May and Wednesday 22 May 2019. Items taken include a silver plate and chalice from the Communion box, a bottle of sherry and various keys, including a distinctive large front door key. Anyone with information that could assist the investigation should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 2, and ask for Sophie Simpson. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can pass information to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Please quote reference number 12190091802.Last modified: May 23, 2019