Guard your property against vandalism & theft
As the United States experiences an unprecedented shutdown due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the buildings of many houses of worship, nonprofits and other organizations are unoccupied or sitting empty.
Empty buildings can be prime targets for vandals and thieves, but there are steps you can take to lower your risk of experiencing a break-in or damage:
- Lock all doors and windows. It may sound simple, but it’s a good idea to double-check every single entrance point. Basement window wells and ground level windows should be protected.
- Perform regular security sweeps of the facility. Every state has different levels of lockdown during this time of uncertainty. But if you can, designate a staff member or volunteer to walk the property on a regular basis. Make sure bushes and shrubbery are trimmed back, all lights are working properly, and ladders and other equipment are locked away.
- Pick up mail and newspapers every day. An accumulation of these items is a dead giveaway that your facility is empty. Ask the person who’s walking the property to pick up the mail and any other items.
- Put art and other valuables away. You may have precious or sentimental items that are of great value in your facility. Now is the time to put all those pieces in storage so would-be thieves can’t easily find them. Place them in an interior room so they are protected from the sun; an attic or basement aren’t the best choices because they can leave the items vulnerable to flooding or extreme temperatures. You should also keep an inventory list of all your valuable items so you can account for them if you do experience a break-in. When the shutdown ends, you can bring your valuables back out again.
- Protect your stained glass windows. If you have stained-glass windows, consider using a protective covering. They can be particularly tempting for vandals, who are looking for easy targets.
- Close all curtains and blinds. Thieves are less likely to be interested in a facility when they can’t see what’s inside.
- Keep your property looking neat. If your state’s laws allow during the shutdown, perform regular maintenance on your property, including keeping the grass cut and removing debris from the walkways and entrances.
- Keep all flammables securely locked away. Gas cans and flammable liquids should be stored out of sight. Pick up any debris or other items a vandal could use to start a fire.
- Maintain a relationship with your local police. Make sure local law enforcement is aware that your building is open and ask patrol officers to regularly drive by and look for signs of security problems.
- Install a security system. Now may be the time to install a burglar alarm and/or security system. You need a reliable method for monitoring your facility from afar.
In most cases, vandals and thieves stay away from challenges. If you make it difficult for them to cause damage to your property or break in, they will go elsewhere.