Churches, sacred spaces – easy targets for thieves?

| February 15, 2012

[Episcopal News Service] Google “church” and “robbery” together and the hits just keep on coming.

Recent thefts of copper wiring, mostly from outdoor air conditioning units, as well as other less frequent instances of break-ins, armed robberies and embezzlement, have taught church officials a painful lesson — that even sacred spaces may be easy targets for experienced thieves.

The trouble is, many unsuspecting church officials frequently don’t think about security measures, or that they might be victimized, until they are.

St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in New Orleans was targeted not once, but twice last year by copper wire thieves, according to the Rev. Steve Craft, rector.

“They stole the copper wiring out of the office air conditioning units at first,” Craft said in a recent telephone interview from his office.

“When we got to work we thought that the unit needed to be recharged because that happens from time to time. That was a Friday. On Sunday somebody came and said, ‘Do you know the copper piping is missing from the air conditioning unit?’”

A week later the thieves returned, this time stealing copper wiring from a school air conditioning unit. “They came back in the middle of the night,” Craft said. “Within a week, we had about $10,000 worth of damage. They even took out the security lamp lighting in the school buildings.”

Preschool classes had to be cancelled for more than a week because “you can’t have kids inside in the heat,” Craft said.

When local authorities told him that “the amount of money they actually are going to make from this copper was probably about $100 to $150, while it caused $10,000 worth of damage,” he hung a sign that said ‘if you need money, knock on the door, please’.

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Category: Church Security

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