Churches in Wales are being urged to take steps to prevent break ins following a series of incidents across the UK.


The warning comes from specialist insurer Ecclesiastical following a spate of thefts from churches.


A number of churches have already been targeted in the first half of 2024 including Grade-I listed Holy Trinity Church across the border in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire which had a silver plate, chalices and other items used for communion stolen.


In Llaneliu in the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park, St Ellyw's Church was targeted by thieves who stole paving slabs from the church entrance. St Mary's Church in Llanfair-ar-y-Bryn near Llandovery in Carmarthenshire also had slate paving stolen by callous thieves.


Earlier this year a report published by Historic England and the National Police Chief’s Council highlighted the risk of an increase in theft of valuable heritage materials and cultural objects by opportunist offenders and organised crime groups as inflation continues to impact on the price of commodities.


Ecclesiastical is urging churches across the country to carry out reviews of their security arrangements as a result of this recent increase in break ins and thefts.


Helen Richards, church operations director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “Theft from church buildings can have a heartbreaking impact, both on the volunteers and congregation who give their time to worship at the church and also to the potential loss of heritage.


“Sadly we’re seeing more incidents where churches are being targeted, with items such as silver, cash, statues, furniture and even paving stones being stolen. While many of these items have limited financial value, they are irreplaceable, and the emotional impact of that loss can be devastating.


“There is a real risk the economic challenges in the UK and high value of silver could see an increase in thefts from historical buildings such as churches, so we’re urging churches across the country take steps to protect themselves and follow our guidance which is available through our website.


We still want churches to be open during the day to their communities, congregation and potential visitors but we must all be aware of the risks. It is critically important that churches follow our risk management advice to protect themselves. Our team of experts is on hand to support customers and can be contacted on 0345 777 3322.”


The specialist insurer’s risk management team advises churches to take the following steps:


  • Keep your church secure: At night lock your church doors, windows, and any external gates. Installing security lights and keeping the exterior well-lit can deter criminals and applying anti-climb paint. Also, consider installing intruder alarms and CCTV, all remotely monitored by an alarm-receiving centre that can alert the church if there is an incident.
  • Report suspicious activity and encourage use of church buildings: Use the building as much as possible for church and community activities. Regularly occupied and used buildings may be less vulnerable to attacks.
  • Practice good housekeeping: Keep internal doors shut and locked when not in use, put any valuables into secure safes, remove any equipment that could be used to access the church – such as ladders used for maintenance.
  • Carry out regular external inspections of your church buildings and grounds: Regularly check your buildings and report any criminal damage to the police and your insurers as soon as possible. Cut back vegetation on a regular basis so the building can be seen by people passing who may spot suspicious activity.
  • Repair any criminal damage to the church building immediately: A damaged building is at risk of further attacks, including arson. Ensure any graffiti or other signs of anti-social behaviour are removed quickly.
  • Report theft to the police and insurer: In the event that the worst case happens, make sure you report the break in to the police so they can visit and collect forensic evidence to support any investigation. It’s also important to let your insurer know so they can help process the claim.

For more information on how churches can protect themselves, visit