Police have issued security advice to places of worship following a break-in at a York church.
St Wulstan’s Church on Fossway was entered between Monday 20 May and Wednesday 22 May 2019. Items taken include a silver plate and chalice from the communion box, a bottle of sherry and various keys, including a distinctive large front door key.
PCSO Caroline Saville, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “Sadly, the welcoming nature of churches and other places of worship makes them vulnerable to thieves who can take advantage of them being open and unattended.”
She issued this crime prevention advice to churches:
Small valuable items should be stored away in a locked vestry, cupboard, safe or strong room when not in use during the week.
Valuables, including communion plates, which are not in regular use should be deposited in the bank. Wooden or base metal substitutes for altarware can be displayed, and the originals locked away. They can be returned for services and events.
Consider discreetly chaining larger items of antique furniture or valuables to the floor or wall. This may not deter the determined thief – but could be enough to thwart an opportunist criminal.
Any offertory boxes or charity collections should ideally be emptied daily, and a notice displayed on the box indicating this.
Stained glass advice
The building should be secured with good quality locks and bars at the windows – vulnerable stained glass windows can be protected externally by polycarbonate sheet.
PCSO Saville added: “Should the worst happen, and the building is targeted by criminals, it will greatly help us if you have a log and photographs of all property, ideally stored in a safe place away from the church.
“When taking photographs, it’s a good idea to use a coin, such as a 50p, to indicate size.
“Finally, and most importantly of all, the community should be vigilant, and report any suspicious activity to the police right away.
“By acting as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the police, local residents can help protect churches and other historic buildings for future generations.”
Can you help the investigation into the St Wulstan’s burglary? Contact police on the numbers below.
How to help the police