Stop Vandalism in its Tracks

Vandalism can happen at any time, but it seems to increase during warmer weather and may be on the rise during times associated with protests and demonstrations. Vandals have been known to throw stones through stained glass, scrawl threatening graffiti on buildings, sidewalks, vehicles, and playgrounds, shatter windshields, and break into church buildings, damaging items inside.

Here are some suggestions to protect your church and its vehicles from vandalism.

Shed Light on the Property

  • Install adequate exterior lighting near doors, in parking lots, and behind buildings. Replace any burned-out bulbs. Consider installing motion-sensitive lights.
  • Keep interior lights on at night. Use a timer or light-sensitive switch to create the illusion that the building is occupied.
  • Position exterior lighting out of reach. Lights should be high enough to prevent criminals from disabling them.

Secure Valuables

  • Store expensive equipment, such as laptop computers, DVD players, and musical equipment, in securely locked rooms.
  • Close window curtains or blinds every evening to hide valuables from view.
  • Use a safe to store petty cash and small valuables.

Alarm Intruders

  • Invest in a security alarm system. Look for one that provides an audible alarm, 24-hour monitoring, and decals warning would-be criminals that the building is protected.
  • Conduct regular tests to ensure that your security and fire alarms are working properly. Repair anything that’s not functioning.
  • Change the alarm’s security code occasionally, noting which people receive the code.

Keep Your Church Clean

  • Remove graffiti or signs of vandalism immediately. Clean, well-maintained areas attract less crime.
  • Trim shrubs, trees, and long grass. This removes hiding places and reduces fire risk.
  • Store garbage away from the building, in fire-resistant containers

Secure Vehicles

  • Park vehicles and maintenance equipment in locked storage sheds or garages, if possible.
  • Take church vehicles home if a garage isn’t available. Vandalism is less likely in a busy residential neighborhood than on an empty church campus.
  • Discourage overnight parking. Advise people traveling to multi-day church events to leave their cars at home.

Consider Surveillance Cameras

  • Purchase security cameras and install them around your building’s exterior.
  • Test cameras regularly to make sure they’re working and mounted properly.
  • Record video footage, so you can share it with police, if necessary.

Encourage Community Support

  • Ask local police to add your church to their patrols, especially at night and around July 4, when fireworks are plentiful.
  • Remind church members and neighbors to watch for suspicious activity. Advise them to avoid confrontations, make detailed observations, and report information to the police.
  • Start a neighborhood watch program. Contact your local law enforcement agency or click here for more information from National Neighborhood Watch.

Report Vandalism to Law Enforcement

  • If your ministry property is damaged by vandalism and/or threatening graffiti or messages, contact local law enforcement to report. Yours might not be the only property damaged or threatened. Filing a police report helps the police to document vandalism crime and threats in the area. Take photos of the vandalism to submit. Once you make a report, ask for a case number.
  • If you witness your property being vandalized, from a safe place call 911 immediately to report. You may be asked about how many people are involved, for a physical description of the vandal(s), about vehicles involved, direction they left in, etc. (Note: Only dial 911 if active vandalism is occurring.)