Metal Theft Prevention Advice for Churches
- Gates should be well maintained, move freely and you should not be able to lift them from hinges. Are gates locked at night?
- Is there a public footpath through the churchyard? Are there multiple entries/exits to the churchyard and church?
- Can vehicles access the site?
- Is there a well defined perimeter?
- Is the churchyard well maintained? If so, this gives the impression of regular attendance.
- Is there a hedge, fence or wall?
- Are trees well pruned with branches taken up to approximately 2.5m to assist with natural surveillance of the area?
- Are shrubs and hedges well maintained and not too high to prevent neighbours seeing into the churchyard?
- Roof and Fall Pipes – most church roofs are irregular in design and this means there is usually difficulty with natural surveillance to all aspects. Has a roof alarm been considered? Large cast iron fall pipes aid climbing as do poorly sited fuel tanks.
- Has anti-climb paint been applied? This should be at least 7 ft from ground level and there should be signage.
- Are regular checks made of the roof?
- If there are sheds and outbuildings ensure that tools and machinery are securely locked and property marked.
- Lighting – the type of lighting should be appropriate to the location of the church. Dusk to dawn low level lighting, PIR type lighting, flood lights are appropriate in the right location. Consider the height of lighting and ensure that lights are regularly checked.
- Church doors are almost always large with huge locks and keys. Foliage around doors should be cut back. All doors should be kept locked and bolted where practicable. Consideration to having opening hours may be appropriate, or could there be a rota of volunteers to ensure the church is not left unattended. Keep the number of keyholders to a minimum. If the church is to be left open and unattended items of value should be locked away. Encourage wardens and local residents to make frequent but irregularly timed visits to the church. Lock the church during hours of darkness.
- Windows – most are stained glass. To provide protection either the fitting of wire mesh or a polycarbonate covering may be appropriate.
- If the church is to be locked – ensure the key is available – have a contact telephone number available on the church noticeboard.
- Are all items of high value kept in a safe that is out of view and fixed to the floor?
- Large amounts of cash should not be kept in the church. Location of church safe keeps should be documented. Offetory boxes should be emptied regularly and signage advising of this should be displayed. All property should be marked using either ultra violet, Smartwater or similar DNA type marking and, where applicable, overt marking which readily identifies items. It is an excellent idea to take photographs, ensuring there is something in the frame to accurately provide size/scale (a ruler, coin or postage stamp). Substituting items of value when the church is open for private prayer may be an easy way of protecting property.
- Cellars – ensure cellar flaps are secured and if the cellar is no longer in use consider having the entrance bricked up.
- Roof Alarms and Intruder Alarms – alarms should be used in conjunction with good physical security.
The Wider Community
The church is a focal point of the community and even if residents have no formal involvement they may be willing to help. Is there a Neighbourhood Watch in the area? Encourage everyone to actively help to look after the church and report anything they think is suspicious. Register for our message sending system www.churchalert.co.uk / www.lincsalert.co.uk
It is important that the church/churchyard should look as if it is used and loved. A derelict or unkempt look can indicate that security may be poor and surveillance negligible. The opportunist will always look for the easy option.