Church crime is a national problem with the Church of England working closely with police across the country to protect religious buildings from attacks, it has been claimed.
The Diocese of York Church Buildings Advisor Keith Halliday said crimes committed against churches hurt everyone and action needs to be taken.
He said: “This is a national problem for the whole Church of England, and we’re working closely with the police and with local churches to support measures to protect churches from these attacks.
“Whether you’re a churchgoer or not, these buildings belong to their community and they’re a living record of the place they serve.
“Everyone is hurt by these thefts, and in the end the best protection against them is vigilance by everyone in the parish.”
The Diocese is sometimes able to offer help to local parochial church councils (PCCs) to contribute to the cost of installing monitored alarm systems to protect vulnerable roofs.
North Yorkshire’s historic churches attract visitors from across the country and around the world, and their heritage value alone is priceless
North Yorkshire Police is supporting Heritage Watch schemes, which aim to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour at historic sites.
A force spokesman said: “By protecting our shared heritage, we can ensure these buildings will continue to be enjoyed for many years to come.
“Heritage Watch is a scheme which aims to fight crime and anti-social behaviour at North Yorkshire’s heritage sites by improving communication between people who take a keen interest in heritage, those who live near historical sites, and the police.
“These people are likely to frequent areas of historical interest more often, and can therefore notice anything suspicious or out of the ordinary in these areas.”
Police have also stressed the importance of members of the public keeping an eye out for precious sites and artefacts to make sure everything is as it seems and to report any suspicious activity to officers immediately.