Churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship are plagued with unique security concerns.
Such faith-based institutions are often targeted due to a hostile or intolerant neighborhood, or because they are seen as easy targets. Such buildings also house expensive and rare relics, icons, artwork and antiques, which further put them at risk.
In fact, burglaries and thefts in churches rose nearly 50% from 2009 to 2010, causing great concern for those responsible for safeguarding these properties.
When evaluating the safety of a place of worship, address theft, vandalism and intrusion concerns head-on.
1. Protect Against Vandalism
Graffiti, broken windows and property defacement can be a nuisance to clean and costly to repair—especially if custom or stained glass windows are affected. Prevent vandalism in the following ways:
- Install motion sensor lights. Strategically install motion sensor lights around the perimeter of the church, synagogue or mosque. This will shine a spotlight on anyone who crosses the property’s threshold at night—thus deterring acts of vandalism.
- Place video surveillance cameras in visible locations. Leverage the use of an outdoor video surveillance solution, and place cameras in easy-to-spot locations. Cameras will communicate to vandals that they are, indeed, being watched.
- Protect custom and stained glass windows. Places of worship are often decorated with large custom windows and beautiful stained-glass dressings. Rock throwing, and other acts of vandalism, can be a great threat to these expensive and meaningful architectural elements. Protective glazing and storm glass are just two of the options available to protect your windows.
2. Keep Out Unwanted Intruders
A monitored alarm system is the best way to keep unwanted intruders out of the facility. If someone gains access from a door, window or other entry point, the alarm will sound, and local emergency personnel will be alerted.
Also consider internal security cameras to help identify perpetrators and catch crimes on tape.
3. Safeguard Holy and Sacred Items
Places of worship often house rare, expensive and meaningful relics, icons, artwork and antiques. These items are often targeted due to their value. Take extra precaution to secure them so that they do not fall into the wrong hands.
Sensors can be placed on specific items so that alarms will sound if they are moved. For example, place sensors on the holy arch of a synagogue to protect the Torah. If the doors are opened or curtains are drawn back, this will trip the sensors, and sound the alarm.
Sensors can also be placed on holy statues. If you fear that the church's Crucifix is a target, install sensors at the base. If the cross it meddled with, the alarm will sound, allowing you to take immediate action to mitigate damages.
Leverage motion sensor technology to provide protection for antiques and relics that are not suitable for physical sensors. Motion sensors trigger alarms when movement is detected near these items.
Don’t solely rely on divine intervention to prevent against security threats. Leverage a monitoring system and/or surveillance system to truly protect your place of worship.
What are some security challenges you face at your place of worship? Please share your experiences below.