Churches At-Risk: Mid-Year Crime Report Highlights Loss of Life and Property
Christian Churches Impacted by Six Homicides and More Than $6.3 Million in Property Loss in the First Six Months of 2009
CINCINNATI, Ohio, July 7 /Christian Newswire/ — According to „Crimes Against Christian Organizations in the United States,“ a new report released by the Christian Security Network, of the 17 violent crimes reported by Christian churches thus far in 2009, six resulted in homicides. Additionally, churches lost more than $6.3 million in property loss due to burglary, theft, robbery, arson and vandalism.
2009 marks the first year the Christian Security Network started tracking incidents of violence, theft and other criminal acts against churches, an effort believed to be the first ongoing tracking system to systematically record and categorize crimes against Christian churches and organizations.
Nearly 500 incidents in 42 states are documented in „Crimes Against Christian Organizations in the United States.“ According to the report, burglary accounted for 64 percent of the crimes against churches, a devastating blow for many churches already impacted by losses due to the economic downturn. Arson and general theft were the second and third most common crimes, accounting for 13 percent and 7 percent of the incidents respectively.
„It’s not mandatory that churches report these crimes to any governmental agency, which greatly contributes to the lack of data and statistics available on crimes against churches,“ said Jeffrey Hawkins, executive director of the Christian Security Network.
„While we’ve attempted to put together a comprehensive report on these crimes, we also understand many churches do not report criminal activities because of their stance on forgiveness or fear of public embarrassment. We estimate the number of burglaries are probably five to six times greater than the number reported,“ he said.
Of the 472 incidents tracked in the report, 17 were violent acts, including six homicides and the stabbings of a priest and a church employee. In five of the incidents, the police, faulty weaponry, and other factors averted gunmen, preventing more tragic occurrences and greater loss of life.
Internal theft was reported more frequently in the second quarter than in the first, including the case of a church volunteer in Knoxville, Tenn. who stole from fellow worshippers over a period of several years. Losses from all internal theft incidents reported in the first six months of 2009 totaled more than $2.3 million, more per incident than any other crime.
„We frequently receive calls and emails from church members who are worried and frustrated that their church leadership is not more proactive about church security,“ said Hawkins. „As a society, we protect businesses, schools, banks and other institutions. Now, more than ever, that same level of protection needs to be extended to churches and faith-based organizations.“
Incidents reported in the Christian Security Network’s „Crimes Against Christian Organizations in the United States“ have been compiled from a variety of sources and verified against news media reports and police department data. Cost estimates are based on actual reported losses and averages reported from organizations such as the National Fire Protection Association, in cases of arson.
For a copy of „Crimes Against Christian Organizations in the United States“ or interviews with Jeffrey Hawkins, contact Ty Mays at (770) 256-8710 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Christian Security Network, including a full schedule of upcoming Security and Emergency Preparedness seminars for churches, visit www.christiansecuritynetwork.com.
The Christian Security Network ( www.christiansecuritynetwork.com) is a national organization dedicated to the advancement of security, safety and emergency planning for Christian churches, schools, ministries and missionaries. The organization provides training, information and resources to help faith-based organizations minimize risks and increase safety. In addition to implementing plans against violent acts, arson and similar tragedies, Christian Security Network also provides resources that address lawsuits and liability, medical emergencies and destructive weather. The organization provides subscribers of the network with webinars, seminars, training articles, access to intelligence information, grant information to fund security measures, on-site risk assessments and educational materials.