8 Tips to Help Your Ministry Prevent Crimes Against Property


Your church property serves as your meeting place for worship, fellowship, studying, counseling and activities such as vacation Bible school and fall festivals. Sound systems, instruments, furniture monitors and playground equipment support all these activities.

But what happens if someone breaks in and damages this property? It can halt your activities, create unplanned expenses and take time away from your ministry. You can help minimize the risk of crimes against property with proactive prevention measures. If a crime does occur, there are certain steps you need to take to protect your staff and church members in the aftermath.

Examples of Property Crimes You May Be at Risk For

The National Institute of Justice defines property crime as destroying or stealing a victim’s property without the use of threat of force against the victim. These crimes include burglary, theft, vandalism and arson.1 Examples of these crimes on church property include these scenarios:

  • Someone spray paints graffiti on a church building.
  • Someone breaks a window to enter your building and steals sound equipment.
  • Someone slashes the tires of a church van.
  • Someone breaks the lock on a door and steals tithes.

And while these examples may feel more anecdotal, recent reports show that crimes against churches are steadily on the rise.2

However, you have the power to minimize property crimes by implementing proactive measures and practicing them diligently.

8 Crime and Theft Prevention Tips
  1. Lock doors, windows and external stairways before you leave.
  2. Keep track of your keys. Limit the number of people who have access to church keys and recalibrate locks if any keys are lost or stolen.
  3. Check in. If you don’t have scheduled activities at your church for several days, stop by the building periodically to make sure things are secure.
  4. Adjust landscaping to eliminate hiding areas near the building wherever possible. This is most important near windows and doors. Keep shrubbery and trees trimmed so the building can be observed from a distance.
  5. Use automatic timers. These timers turn lights on and off in different rooms at different times to make it look like the building is occupied. If you can’t get automatic timers, leave lights on in one or two interior rooms.
  6. Install central station and burglar alarm systems. A central station alarm alerts a manned security station, resulting in the deployment of law enforcement and fire officials. A local alarm system sounds at the premises, which means it’s only effective if someone hears it and notifies the police.
  7. Create an inventory list of all property, including serial numbers, model descriptions and purchase prices or cost estimates. Keep the list in a safe location, such as a safe deposit box. Your attorney or insurance agent should have a copy as well.
  8. Ask local police to patrol your property during the night hours. You might also ask local law enforcement and fire officials to inspect your premises and give advice on how to secure your building thoroughly.
What to Do if a Crime Occurs

It is important to know what to do in the event of crimes against property to help keep you, your staff and church members safe.

  • Call the police if you notice suspicious persons or activities around your church or discover a crime has been committed. Do not confront the criminal(s) yourself.
  • Observe carefully. If you witness a crime, try to remember details about the suspect, including gender, height, build, skin color, hair and eye color, age, voice or speech, scars or tattoos, and jewelry and clothing.
  • Don’t disturb the crime scene.
  • Make a list of missing or damaged property if you discover theft or vandalism.
  • Notify your insurance agent as soon as possible. This will enable you to verify available insurance coverage and receive a fast, fair settlement.
Persevere with Protected Property

At GuideStone®, we understand your property’s critical role in your ministry. We’re here to help guide you toward strong protection from crimes against property so you can focus on fulfilling the Lord’s calling in your life. For more information, contact us at InsuranceSolutions@GuideStone.org or (214) 720-2868, Monday through Thursday, from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT and Friday, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. CT.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice. Readers should use this article as a tool, along with best judgment and any terms or conditions that apply, to determine appropriate policies and procedures for your church’s risk management program.