The Church Buildings Council has announced that it has set up a national crime helpline for churches to use when a treasure is stolen.
When a theft is reported it will trigger an alert to auctions houses, museums and crime prevention agencies and is an effective way of preventing the sale and permanent loss of treasures.
It has also launched an initiative to encourage parishes to take clear photographs of their treasures and artworks and to send a copy to the helpline email address. The immediate provision of photographs of stolen or damaged treasures will assist the police with their recovery.
The Church Buildings Council is keen that we can all enjoy the many treasures and artworks in our buildings. Although the fear of crime is greater than the reality there is no room for complacency. Some parishes feel they have to sell their church treasures because they are worried that they might be stolen or that they can't afford the insurance.
The Church Buildings Council has therefore produced new security guidance, posted today on churchcare.co.uk. It is full of good practical advice about how to keep a church building and its contents safe while allowing free access to all who wish to visit.
Criminals who target churches can be successfully apprehended and convicted. Norwich Magistrates Court recently gave a suspended custodial sentence, 150 hours of community work and a compensation order to a man who had entered churches in Norfolk in April 2014 intent on stealing cash from collection boxes.