More church break-ins reported

Published 8:37 pm Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Rev. Den Irwin summed up his reaction to Tuesday’s break-in at St. Martin Catholic Church simply:

“It points very strongly to the need to have a Savior, to be quite honest,” the priest said. “To think that people are that desperate … and at this time of year, when it’s a time to be thinking about giving.”

Irwin’s church was among three broken into Monday night and early Tuesday morning. The others include First Baptist and First Methodist in downtown Troy.

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The break-ins come three days after police reported a spate of three other break-ins between Dec. 10 and Dec. 16: God’s Way Baptist on Elba Highway, First Presbyterian and Bush Memorial, both on George Wallace Drive.

At St. Martin’s, Irwin said the burglar appeared to be looking for money.

“He rummaged through my desk … and broke into one of our locked file cabinets, then walked right past my laptop,” Irwin said. “

Capt. Jimmy Ennis at the Troy Police Department said police are following several leads in the break-ins.

“We have some leads, and we’re following them,” Ennis said. “The motive seems to be the same in these: they’re looking for cash.”

Police would not release details about any items stolen, but said the burglars are gaining entry through doors and windows. “The First Baptist Church had an alarm, which was triggered during the break-in,” Ennis said. That incident was reported to police at 12:09 a.m. Tuesday. The other two church break-ins were discovered later Tuesday morning.

“The biggest thing this morning has been the damage to buildings,” Ennis said. Previously, he had estimated the damage to the buildings at the first three churches burglarized at nearly $2,000.

Like Irwin, Ennis said he is disappointed that burglars seem to be targeting area churches.

“It’s discouraging for them to be broken into anytime,” Ennis said Tuesday. “You’d like to think there’s nobody that low.”

The break-ins extended to Brundidge, where the office and McEachern buildings of Brundidge United Methodist Church were broken into and vandalized between the hours of 4 and 8 p.m. on Monday.

Corp. Sherry Shackleford with the Brundidge Police Department responded to the incident and said the doors of the buildings had been forced open and evidently the intruders spent a long time in the buildings.

“Whoever did this ramshackled the buildings evidently looking for money,” Shackleford said. “Two money bags and a cash box were taken from the offices and a lot of damage was done. Three checks were found on North Main Street.”

Shackleford said the incident is under investigation.

“We have several leads that should lead us to who is responsible for this crime,” she said.

“I just don’t know what kind of person would steal from a church. But we will be keeping a very close watch on our churches to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”