Faith-based institutions are a prime target for criminal activity across the United States. Not only are places of worship full of valuable assets, faith-based institutions are also community-gathering centers where volunteers provide transportation, event planning, labor and custodial services.
Whether it’s to prevent theft or violence, faith-based communities must take reasonable security measures to protect their congregations, volunteers and assets. Here’s four steps to secure your facility.
- Install Video Surveillance Security Cameras
Video surveillance security cameras with 24 x 7 monitoring capabilities, remote mobile control and real-time alerts allow you to spot suspicious activity proactively. All worship-based organizations have their own unique practices for property management. Spend time with facility staff to plan video surveillance security camera placement before installation to maximize your system’s potential and avoid legal concerns associated with privacy. Areas where you are recording should display signs, and all private areas in the facility should not be monitored.
- Restrict Access To Valuable Asset Areas
Criminals see faith-based properties as easy targets because much of the time the buildings are empty. Valuable relics, artwork and money collected during services are often kept on-site. There are also many assets that can be stolen and then sold such as audio-visual equipment and expensive musical instruments.
Ideally, these organizations would like to be readily available to serve their community. Leasing facilities for after-hours use such as a gymnasium and meeting rooms will deter some criminal activity but may also pose new risks. To secure religious valuables and protect volunteers, consider an acess control system. These systems restrict access to certain areas and provide data logs of everyone that enters and exits secured rooms. Set a unique passcode, and only provide it to trusted members of your institution.
Some faith-based services end at night. The darkness can provide a cover for thieves or intruders, waiting to harm your institution or visitors. Install lights around your building’s exterior (walkways, parking lots, entrances and exits) to deter crime. This can be very beneficial for volunteers or staff who stay late to clean up after an event or who are frequenting very late in the evening.
- Install Safety Alarms
Many faith-based institutions light candles and/or incense during services—both of which can pose serious threats if left unattended. In the event of a fire or carbon monoxide leak, a 24 x 7 monitored alarm will immediately alert volunteers, congregation members and proper authorities, minimizing damage potential.