Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc

Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc

October 15, 2007 08:00 ET

Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc: Church Arsons

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 15, 2007) - PRESS RELEASE from Jacinta Whyte , General Manager & Chief Agent for Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc Canada.

Over the summer there has been a rash of church arson fires across Canada, culminating with 2 churches going up in flames in the town of Cannington (Pop. 2,000), Ontario. In this latest incident, which occurred in the early hours of Sunday October 7th, a 17 year old male allegedly destroyed a 150 year old Presbyterian church and partially destroyed the town's United church.

Jacinta Whyte, General Manager and Chief Agent for Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc Canada has expressed dismay and disappointment " although we were not the Insurer of either of these churches we understand the extent of the emotional, spiritual, social and historical loss to the community. In any crime, you look for motive and opportunity. In this case we can only guess at the motive, but the opportunity was there because many churches are seen as 'soft targets' for arsonists. While press reports are sketchy on the details of these particular crimes, typically churches are unoccupied for much of the week, are relatively easy to break into and once inside, ignition sources and combustibles can be readily available."

Mrs Whyte went on to state that her Company has developed extensive expertise in the area of arson prevention risk management: "although public perception is that risk management is an abstract and technical process, the most effective risk management is simple, with the key ingredient being common-sense".

There are some simple steps that can deter would-be arsonists; these include:

1) Restrict Entry: Lock your doors and windows. Do not leave keys lying around and always know who has sets of keys. When your place of worship is open do not leave unattended, have a professional or volunteer caretaker on site and visible.

2) Install security lighting: Consider perimeter floodlighting and motion activated lights at doors and windows. These are readily available at your local hardware store. Use timers on your interior lights and make sure interior lighting is visible from the outside.

3) Secure all windows: Close and lock your windows, make sure these locks can withstand a person from breaking in.

4) Lock up outbuildings or sheds. At the end of the day put away ladders, tools, flammable liquids and all items which do not belong outside and lock them away.

5) Remove combustibles; such as candles, matches, newspapers, paints and cleaning fluids and lock them in a metal security container, in the locked shed.

6) Keep your property clean and tidy: Trim the trees and shrubs, sweep up the leaves, and remove any graffiti. Keep garbage bins away from the building and use locked garbage bins.

7) Report any suspicious behavior or activity to the police: Groups of youths hanging around, loitering, vandalism to your or adjacent buildings. Be vigilant and assign volunteers to walk past the place of worship as part of a neighbourhood watch.

8) Install fire and intrusion alarms: this can be the best protection for your place of worship. Alarms will deter arsonists especially if they are central station monitored. Visit your local hardware store where you will get advice on security alarms.

"We have identified arson as one of the most serious threats to places of worship and have posted an in-depth white paper on this subject on our website.

The white paper is accessible to all, simply go to www.ecclesiastical.ca".

(See below for details)

Ecclesiastical Insurance was established in the United Kingdom in 1887 and has been present in Canada since 1972. Owned by a charitable trust, we are committed to serving the needs of our customers and the larger community. Apart from funds required for business operations, our group profits are redistributed for the benefit of faith and charitable initiatives.

Ecclesiastical Insurance is the insurer of choice for Canada's places of worship.

(To access the website - simply go to 'www.ecclesiastical.ca'; click on the 'Risk Management' tab; click on 'click here to sign up now'; complete the 'new user registration form' and you will receive a return email providing you with your password; go to the 'white paper login'; enter your email address and password and then click on 'Protect your Place of Worship'.)

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