Catalytic Converter Theft on the Rise: Protect Ministry Vehicles

Stricter car emissions rules around the world have sent demand for the precious metals in catalytic converters surging. That has pushed up the asking price for some of the precious metals used in the device — like palladium and rhodium — to record highs. This, combined with the fact that one can be stolen in just minutes, is making vehicles a common target.

Across the nation, police are reporting a surge in catalytic converter theft cases and we’ve seen a rise in claims from our ministry customers over the month.

And it’s not just vehicles you need to protect. Thieves also look for opportunities to nab copper from air conditioning units and other HVAC systems.

Protect Your Property

Thieves are opportunists. They want easy access, so they can get what they want quickly and escape without notice. By hindering access and making detection more likely, you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim. Here are some ideas to consider.

Hinder Access

- Store vehicles inside locked garages or sheds. If that’s not an option, have members drive vehicles home each night, so they’re not left in parking lots.

- Enclose church property with a secure fence.

- Post “no trespassing” signs.

- Place a cage or fence around air conditioning units.

- Secure the electrical power shut-off switch. Move the switch, if it’s located near the air conditioning units.

- Remove ladders and other items offering easy access to rooftop HVAC units.

- Replace copper downspouts with other materials.

- Don’t leave copper plumbing, gutters, or wiring on construction sites.

Improve Likelihood of Detection

- Ask church members to drive past the church when they’re in the neighborhood, looking for suspicious cars, people, or activity.

- Invite church neighbors to call police if they notice unusual activity.

- Have local police patrol your property regularly during evening and night hours.

- Use security cameras to monitor target areas, including construction sites. Some systems feature motion activation and can contact police if activity is detected.

- Increase lighting around HVAC units and places where thieves might hide.

- Install alarms on HVAC units. A sensor can be set to trigger an alarm if the power to the AC unit is disconnected or if the AC coolant level drops.

Protect Unoccupied Buildings

If any ministry buildings are vacant or temporarily unoccupied, it’s important to protect them. Thieves are more likely to strike empty buildings, since they're less likely to get caught. You’ll want to protect not only the building’s air conditioner, but also any copper plumbing or valuables that may be inside.

Here are some suggestions:

- Visit vacant or unoccupied buildings regularly to make sure they’re secure.

- Stagger your visits to make them unpredictable. Don’t show up every Tuesday at 2 p.m.

- Make them look “lived in.” Shovel snow, mow the lawn, collect newspapers and mail, place lights on timers, and leave a radio or television set on during your absence.

- Ask neighbors and police to keep an eye on the place.

- Keep fire and burglar alarm systems operational, so authorities are alerted to problems.

Also, it’s important to let your insurance agent know if any buildings listed on your policy are vacant or unoccupied. If a loss occurs after a building has been unoccupied for more than 60 days, your policy may exclude the loss or reduce your payment by 15 percent.

This makes protecting your investment even more significant, since your church would bear a greater share of any loss.

April 19, 2021
Take Time to Review Your Ministry's Child Protection Plan
Take Time to Review Your Ministry's Child Protection Plan

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Though child abuse may not be something you could ever imagine happening within your ministry, sexual abuse of a minor is one of the top five reasons churches end up in court, according to Church Law & Tax. Studies also show that a child is much more likely to be sexually abused by a trusted adult than a stranger.

Tags: protect, risk management, child safety, child protection, youth, childcare
March 16, 2021
Prepare for Severe Spring Storms Now
Prepare for Severe Spring Storms Now

When severe storms strike, they can produce high winds and tornadoes. Damaging winds can wreak havoc on your ministry’s property and to buildings. A high wind event can crash debris through your windows, strip your siding, down trees on your parking lot, peel shingles off your roof, and fling back the flashing.

Tags: weather emergency, lightning, storms, safety, protect
February 25, 2021
Catalytic Converter Theft on the Rise: Protect Ministry Vehicles
Catalytic Converter Theft on the Rise: Protect Ministry Vehicles

Thieves are taking advantage of soaring precious metal prices. Take steps to protect your ministry’s vehicles and property.

Tags: protect, theft, vehicle
February 15, 2021
Grant Funds Available for Safeguarding Ministries
Grant Funds Available for Safeguarding Ministries

As the Director of Ministry Safety for our agency, I am dedicated to finding ways to help safeguard ministries like yours.

Tags: COVID-19, health, health safety, protect, coronavirus, Christmas, risk management
February 5, 2021
Avoid Frozen Pipes as Temperatures Plummet
Avoid Frozen Pipes as Temperatures Plummet

As temperatures plummet, the risk of freezing pipes soars. Frozen pipes can cause costly messes that could also put your ministry on hold while you clean up.

Tags: frozen, building, pipes, prevent damage
January 12, 2021
Potential Vulnerabilities in School's Safety Plan
Are there hidden vulnerabilities in your school's safety plan?

On behalf of our agency, I recently participated in one such training which focused on strategies and tactics for responding as a single officer to an active safety threat in a school building.

Tags: COVID-19, health, health safety, protect, coronavirus, Christmas, risk management
January 5, 2021
Church Safety Trends for 2021
Church Safety Trends for 2021

If you’re anything like me (and maybe the rest of the world for that matter), you’re grateful to put the craziness of the past year behind us.

Tags: COVID-19, health, health safety, protect, coronavirus, Christmas, risk management
November 23, 2020
COVID-19 and the Christmas Season
COVID-19 and the Christmas Season

Preparing for this Christmas season may require additional creativity, due to the uncertainty of what COVID-19 may bring in our local community.

Tags: COVID-19, health, health safety, protect, coronavirus, Christmas, risk management
October 28, 2020
Guidance for Ministries About Boy Scouts' Bankruptcy
Guidance for Ministries About Boy Scouts' Bankruptcy

A mid-November deadline in the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) bankruptcy proceedings may have you wondering what the organization’s bankruptcy filing means for your ministry if you ever hosted or chartered Boy Scout Troops.

Tags: coverage, protect, liability, damages, youth
October 1, 2020
Applying for PPP Loan Forgiveness
Applying for PPP Loan Forgiveness

Organizations that obtained Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding through the CARES Act can have their loans forgiven, turning them into grants. To qualify, each borrower must file a forgiveness application with its PPP lender, proving that it followed the rules. If your church, school, college, or camp meets all the criteria, 100% of its loan can be forgiven.

April 13, 2020
Beware of COVID-19 Cyber Scams
Beware of COVID-19 Cyber Scams

Ministries are creatively scrambling to continue their operations and safely engage their congregations with an array of online technologies during the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, hackers are ready to take advantage of the confusion with scams designed to steal valuable data or siphon funds from your ministry.

Tags: fireworks
March 30, 2020
CARES Act: Churches Need to Apply Now
UPDATED: CARES Act: Churches Need to Apply Now

Learn about the CARES Act and two loans for which ministries may be eligible, since Congress authorized additional funding April 23. 

March 6, 2020
Coronavirus and Your Ministry: Tips for Prevention
Coronavirus and Your Ministry: Tips for Prevention

As concern over the dangers associated with the spread of a new coronavirus, COVID-19, spreads, our agency and Brotherhood Mutual want to keep you informed and provide best practices for managing the spread of this and similar illnesses at your ministry.

January 29, 2020
Hosting a Game Day Bash? Brush Up on Copyright Basics
Hosting a Game Day Bash? Brush Up on Copyright Basics

The first Sunday in February is a big day for sports fans. In fact, many Americans view Super Bowl Sunday as a national holiday. Friends and families will gather this year to watch the big game, enjoy delicious snacks, and of course, critique the commercials that go along with game day.

October 28, 2019
Are You Covered If You're Injured Overseas?
Are You Covered If You're Injured Overseas?

Recently, we learned about two major overseas incidents involving pastors on mission trips. The first incident involved a pastor being hit by a motorcycle while running. The second was a bus accident involving two pastors. The runner and one of the two bus passengers sustained extensive injuries.

Tags: missions, insurance
September 11, 2019
Returning to Tornado-Damaged Areas
Returning to Tornado-Damaged Areas

If your ministry buildings were damaged as a result of these tornadoes, or if you plan on sending ministry volunteers out to assist with disaster recovery, be mindful of the dangers involved.

Tags: tornado, severe weather
September 1, 2019
IRS Announces More Church Audits Regarding ACA Compliance
IRS Announces More Church Audits Regarding ACA Compliance

Last month, the IRS announced that its initiating hundreds of church exams to test compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While many provisions only apply to churches with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees (FTEs), even smaller churches could potentially violate provisions applicable to health benefit plans with as few as 2 plan participants.

Tags: ACA, IRS
July 3, 2019
Celebrate Safely This Independence Day
Celebrate Safely This Independence Day

July 4th is synonymous with food, fun, and fireworks. If your church is planning an event this Independence Day, remember to keep a focus on safety, so that everyone can have fun.

Tags: fireworks, firework safety
June 28, 2019
Insurance is one of those things we forget about until we need it
Insurance is one of those things we forget about until we need it

National Insurance Awareness Day falls on June 28 this year to remind people everywhere that insurance is vital to their companies and ministries.

Tags: fireworks
April 29, 2019
North Dakota Severe Summer Weather Awareness Week
It's Severe Summer Weather Awareness Week in North Dakota

As winter turns to spring, we’re also in for a turn in weather. Lightning, strong winds, flash flooding, hail, or tornadoes could quickly strike your ministry. The National Weather Service has designated April 29 – May 3, 2019, as Severe Summer Weather Awareness Week in North Dakota.

Tags: weather emergency, storms, lightning, flood