Church doors will stay open despite theft and vandalism

A Taranaki priest says the church doors  will stay open despite a recent theft which fleeced a parish of more than $2,000 in electronics equipment.

Father Craig Butler said while crime which targeted churches was rare, the impact was widely felt among parishioners.

In June, a thief made off with five microphones and other electronic equipment, valued at $2382, from St Joseph’s Church in Waitara.

Butler said while vandalism and theft were issues he had encountered in other churches he had worked at, it was important the buildings kept their doors unlocked.

“It’s a sacred place which needs to be open so people can go and sit and pray,” he said.

Butler said while parishioners were “not naive” about the security risk presented by leaving the doors ajar, it was an important element of the catholic faith that churches were a place where anyone in the community felt they could visit.

In fact, he said the presence of people acted as a human-powered surveillance system along with the rest of the neighbourhood, who could report any suspicious behaviour.

He  said much of the church’s property was priceless because of its spiritual worth, while other items were of sentimental value as they had been donated by families.

However, he hoped if people were driven to crime due to their circumstances they would consider reaching out to the church first, before they thought about  ripping anybody off.

He said the church was able to provide support for families in crisis and people only needed to ask for help.

“We’d much prefer to have it done that way, rather than for people to steal from us,” he said.

“We’d do anything we can to support them,” he said.


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