Friday, May 04, 2012

Securing the Church

Over the last few weeks there have been four churches here in our county in rural northern Michigan that have been broken into.  In fact, if you are a Facebook friend of mine you know that last Tuesday night the police arrested two men on the roof of our church.  They claimed to be "star gazing" but they were wearing gloves and bandanas which was somewhat suspicious.

Churches getting broken into are not anything new.  I remember as a kid we lived across the school yard from our church.  My dad had tried to play "Mr Plumber" and messed up our bathroom.  I was about 10 and my sister was about 13 and we needed to use the restroom.  Since my parents were also the church janitors, they gave us the key to the church and sent us up to the church to "do our thing."  They told us to use the restroom and then come right home.  When we were done in the restrooms we were playing in the church office rather than going straight home.  It was pretty late at night.  Suddenly we heard a loud noise in the dark sanctuary - the sound of a hymnal falling on the wooden floor under a pew.  We ran home as fast as we could but we didn't tell our parents (after all, we were playing in the church office rather than coming right home).  The next morning when the pastor went into the church he found it had been robbed - while we were in it!!

Why churches?  I think it is because churches are easy targets.  Churches trust people.  Churches are notorious for keeping cash in the building.  More nights than not you can probably find an exterior door unlocked at a church.  So what can a church do to help become more secure?  The local television station interviewed me recently with that question.  While the truth is that if someone really wants to break in to your church they will find a way, there are some things churches can do to help.  For example:

Don't keep money in the church!  Keeping money in the church is asking for trouble!

Make sure all the outside lights and security lights are on and working!  If a light burns out, change it immediately - even if it is in the middle of winter!

Have a plan to make sure all exterior doors are locked and secure every night.  Without a plan, there will be many nights that a door is left open or unlocked.  You can't just assume that whoever the last person is that leaves the building at the end of the day or night will check all the doors.  You have to have a plan.

If you have a security system post stickers on the doors showing that fact and be sure that it is activated any time the building is empty.  An alarm system that is not activated is no good.

When you see something suspicious, call the police.  If there is a strange car in the church parking lot at night when nothing is going on at the church - call the police.  

Or to make it easy, forget all of the above items and simply buy a couple of rottweiler dogs or mean, saliva drooling junk-yard dogs to freely roam your building at night.  Take the cost out of the Deacon fund!  

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