Why Burglars View Places of Worship as Targets
Places of worship are looked upon as safe havens by the surrounding community. That’s a great thing and it’s important for communities to have a place to gather; however, faith-based facilities and places of worship can also be viewed as soft targets by criminals. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, places of worship are especially vulnerable to crime for three reasons: open access, gatherings of large amounts of people at one time and limited security budgets. Think about it like this: most people view places of worship as welcoming environments, but burglars view them as easily accessible buildings that happen to store expensive items. In fact, it would be the minority of churches or temples today that do not use multimedia equipment such as flat-screen TVs, projectors, laptop computers, and digital soundboards and musical instruments.
Burglars have been known to take advantage of a place of worship’s open-door policy and rob them blind. Also, because most places of worship are located near neighborhoods, they provide lots of cover and access to a plethora of escape routes.
There are plenty of practical steps to take that can increase the security of a place of worship, and we will get to those in this blog, but the first step to securing a place of worship is installing a professional security system. A professional security provider will install CCTV video surveillance technology around your property in the most optimal locations to act as both a deterrent and a reference for authorities if a crime does happen to occur.
A professional security provider will also be able to install access control systems in areas where high-value items are stored. Electronic access control technology is ideal for permitting and restricting access to your premises or secured areas within the premises. For example, if your place of worship houses all of it’s expensive religious items and AV equipment in one room, electronic access control technology would be ideal for that room. With an access control system, you could control who has access to that room and also have a timestamped record of who entered the room. You could even customize your access control system card to include a high-quality, full-color professional photo for ID purposes.
Now that we’ve highlighted what type of technology you need to serve as the basis for your security approach, let’s get to some practical tips you can follow to increase the security of your premises.
The most important aspect of practical place of worship security is lighting. The exterior of a property should be effectively lit, focusing on parking lots and the exterior of the building, as well as any other buildings on the property. Installing motion detecting lights on your premises is a great way to deter criminal activity as it sets the tone and sends a message that the criminal has been noticed.
Places of worship should also always keep the shrubbery around their premises neatly maintained, because unkempt landscaping can project an image of vulnerability, according to security expert Jim McGuffey.
“If you have shrubbery growing up alongside the main entrances and now it’s 7 o’clock at night and (a criminal) knows people are going to be walking out of that entrance, that’s where they could attack,” he said.
The last aspect of practical security for places of worships involves assuring that all doors have good frames and hinges. It’s common for places of worship to grow comfortable and familiar with old doors and windows, but this is a genuinely dangerous aspect of security to overlook. All doors should have reliable frames and hinges. Maintaining these aspects of your building can drastically improve security. If you notice any old locks that should be replaced, do something about it and install some new deadbolt locks.
One would naturally hope that a place of worship could be looked upon as a safe, welcoming environment, but sadly, the facts are that burglars view them as opportunities. Follow the tips from this blog to markedly improve the security of your church, temple, or mosque.