For the third time in recent months, First Christian in Omaha had metal stolen from their property, as reported both in the newspaper and local TV. According to the Insurance Board, theft is the most frequent cause of property claims for churches. The claims are relatively small compared to the deductible, so there’s a strong incentive to deter theft losses. Recently, thieves have targeted sources of copper, prominently contained in plumbing and heating systems.
Copper is traded on a world market where its value rose 140 percent in 2009. So, while the copper market is “hot” extra vigilance is required.
Air conditioning compressors commonly sit outside the building they serve and many church buildings may sit unoccupied for significant parts of the day or week. That makes an easy target for thieves if the AC units are not protected. Here are some tips, but make sure the costs are favorable compared to the deductible amount of the church policy.
- Install exterior lighting turned on by motion detectors (and test them).
- Keep landscaping away from air conditioning so thieves cannot be concealed.
- Consider upgrades to your security system, including cameras.
- Add audible alarms triggered by attempts to move equipment or cut a refrigerant line.
- Paint your copper – Recyclers won’t touch it and the thieves know it.
- Install tamper resistant screws or a theft-deterring cage.
Local law enforcement authorities would also be a good source for tips on making a building less attractive to metal thieves.
See the list on the Insurance Board website