Current Affairs
Churches implement anti-theft measures – 300 thefts in 12 years

Churches will no longer be such an easy target for thieves after 12 thefts were reported last year from churches. However this figure is less than the average of the last 11 years which, according to a PQ, amount to 300 reported cases of theft from 2006 to date.

Last year, 12 churches around Malta and Gozo were the target of thieves, with the value of items stolen amounting to around  €31,000.

The largest of these thefts were carried out from the Cospicua Church and the Zejtun Church.

Michael Pace Ross, the Curia’s Administrative Secretary, told TVM that the cash which was stolen amounted to €1,300 because the Curia had insisted with parish priests and church rectors to deposit their collections more frequently. However, he said that the Curia is worried that religious items were being stolen.

Mr Pace Ross said, “we have unfortunately seen an increase in the theft of precious items which is worrying because if they are stolen they are lost forever, whereas money comes and goes. Even if they are not stolen but are damaged we have to restore them.”

Asked by TVM about the security measures to cut down on thefts from churches, Mr Pace Ross said that one of the measures is the installation of security cameras.

“One also needs to be careful about people who enter the sacristy and we cannot assume anything, but we need to be more wary of those who come in and are perhaps studying where the priest or the sacristan is keeping the cash so that they can go back and steal it during the night,” said Mr Pace Ross.

From investigations which were carried out, some of the thefts happened while scaffolding was in place to carry out restoration works.

“We are telling the parish priests and the Archpriests that when important restoration is carried out there should be short time frames, and fixed dates of when the restoration will start and finish so that it is completed as quickly as possible. The longer the scaffolding remains in place, the bigger the risks are,” he added.

Apart from the theft of money and religious objects, other items which have been stolen from churches include a plastic table, a lace tablecloth and lights. This year, only one theft has been reported to date, that of a painting by Francesco Zahra from the corridor of the Salesians’ convent which links with the St Philip’s church in Senglea.