I recently read a story about a local church that recently fell victim to vandals. Someone broke in overnight, threw paint all over the sanctuary, damaged walls, doors, and sound equipment. The staff discovered the damage upon arrival on a Sunday morning.
I don’t know many details about the incident but assume like many churches that they did not have an alarm system that might have limited the amount of damage that was done.
Most municipalities require churches to have some kind of fire monitoring system, but not any kind of break in/burglar alarm. Leaders might consider installing this kind of protection but can’t justify the cost of initial installation and monthly monitoring fees.
A friend of mine just opened a small business and was faced with the same decisions. He came up with what I think is a very affordable option that offers protection.
Companies like Ring and Wyze make small motion activated cameras. They operate via Wi-Fi, so no hard wiring is needed for monitoring. You can plug them in, use rechargeable batteries, or even a solar panel to charge them. These cameras record video and sound and have all kinds of available options.
Cost per camera is $30-$100 depending on the brand and its functions. Set up is very easy if you already have Wi-Fi. Cheaper cameras brands are also available. Read customer reviews before making a purchase.
I have a Ring doorbell and cameras at my house. They were very simple to install, taking only about an hour to do. I can access them from anywhere and know if anyone enters my front or backyard.
Some companies offer video storage for a small monthly fee if you would want to save video recordings for long periods of time. This can be helpful if you ever had the need to view video from several days in the past.
The cameras begin recording as soon as they sense motion. They can be set to send an alert to someone’s cell phone. Imagine getting an alert in the middle of the night that there was motion inside your church facility. You could pick up your phone, see what was happening, and alert authorities if needed.
Determine your budget and purchase the number of cameras you can afford. Place them in the areas that those with bad intentions are likely to enter. I would start with the sanctuary, then the hallway to offices, any rear doors, and then prioritize from there.
The cameras usually come with stickers that let visitors know that the building is protected by video recording. These can act as a great deterrent to break-ins. They should be placed on all doors.
WIFI cameras are affordable, easy to install and offer protection from break ins and vandalism. Consider them as an option to protect your church.
Talk to a professional or someone with some experience if you are uncomfortable deciding what to purchase and how to install.