Series of break-ins at the Seminary

After roughly 4 years of relative peace in terms of crime and break-ins on the campus we have seen some serious increase again in the past 4-5 weeks.

About 4-5 weeks ago someone entered the library (Ken Chisas old office) through a side-window which was apparently unlatched and had been for quite a while. The person(s) were confined to that office as they were unable to open the door into library proper. The person(s) rummaged through all cabinets, opening some by force, searching for cash.

Last Friday night someone entered the Phil Capp center (cnr. Longmarket /Edendale Road). Again they searched for cash, smashed a couple of doors and took a computer. There has been quite some damage but besides the PC hardly anything was taken. Housekeeping was called on Saturday morning and spent quite some time fixing doors, attaching bolts & latches etc. The tenant wished to install alarms but the security firm stated that they could not send a technician during the weekend.
Early on Monday morning the same building was broken into. Apparently the thieves had noticed something they had forgotten to take and had come back to take that as well. It appears that they were quite surprised to find most doors fixed and secured more than before. Again quite a bit was smashed but hardly anything taken. The items they had meant to take were removed and stored elsewhere after the first break-in.

A week later housekeeping phoned me at 3.30 am. The alarm at ESSA had gone off and there has been another break-in at the library.

The other office (formerly Roxane Hill’s) had been entered with a crowbar. The thieves had pried open several cabinets looking for cash. The thieves had then opened the connecting window into the workroom and cut the wiring of the alarm on the outside door (side-door) but failed to open it by force. Nothing was taken from the workroom. Then the thieves pried open the door into the library proper. They continued to pry open several steel cabinets while looking for cash.
The motion sensors registered movement and set off the alarm. The thieves fled the scene. Any remaining valuables were removed from the library until the security measures can be strengthened.

We are thankful that nothing worse has happened. Besides the physical damage to property the financial loss is minimal. Some cash and some old PC’s have been taken. While this does hurt there is a lesson to be learnt here. After 4 years of relative peace we have grown a bit comfortable and lax in terms of security and awareness. These incidents have, once again, forced us to pay more attention to these details.
We are now increasing security and are thinking about several options and possibilities. This itself creates some problems. Of course ESSA could try to implement a complete 100% Fort Know type security concept. This, of course, would definitely restrict access to any of the buildings and/or the staff. ESSA is situated in the City Center with the intention to serve the churches and assist the people who are living and ministering in the City. Isolating ourselves for security reasons is NOT within ESSA’s vision.
At the same time security (or lack of) is a reality that will affect us and anyone connected to ESSA as well. Since the Seminary is renting out accommodations and offices we are to a certain extent responsible to offer a basic security to our tenants. There are lots more factors coming into play on this issue but these two alone serve to show the challenge we are facing.

Please pray with us for wisdom and transparency in dealing with these challenges.