Police: There are similarities in method of church break-ins

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Sixth congregation reports break-in

By Sarah Bennett

Six area churches were burglarized between late Sunday night and early Monday morning, but police have been unable to recover any security footage.

In Eastview, Needham Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Smith Chapel Methodist Church and Mt. Olive Presbyterian Church were broken into while in Radcliff, Gloryland Harvest Church and St. Christopher Catholic Church were burglarized.

After word spread about the rash of church break-ins, a sixth church, Stephensburg Methodist Church, also reported a break-in Monday afternoon, said Greg Lowe, spokesman for the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office.

Lowe said the break-ins share one commonality: forcible entry. At each building, electronic equipment such as televisions, sound systems or computers were taken.

Bryce Shumate, spokesman for Radcliff Police Department, said the six break-ins seem “very coincidental,” but at this point in the investigation, it’s unknown if the break-ins were related.

Without any security footage, he said it makes it difficult to determine if one or multiple people are responsible for the burglaries.

About the break-in at Gloryland Harvest, where thousands of dollars worth of equipment, including the church’s in-house security system, was taken, Shumate said, “It would seem hard to imagine one person could do this.”

While a lack of surveillance makes it more difficult for investigators, Lowe said that doesn’t mean police aren’t going to “give it a good college try.” Investigators are going to pawn shops and other businesses that would purchase these types of items.

Norman Chaffins, public affairs officer at Kentucky State Police Post 4 in Elizabethtown, said investigators are not used to having video footage. Burglary cases are solved using good investigative work.

“Very rarely do we get the bad guy in the church with security photos,” he said.

Pawn shops usually are very accommodating, Chaffins said, and most are stringent about to record keeping.

“If it keeps pretty decent records, it helps us out a lot,” he said.

By state law, pawn shops are required to provide a monthly list of transactions to police, Shumate said.

Somebody in the community either knows who did this or saw something strange occurring outside a church, Shumate said. Anybody with information is encouraged to contact the Radcliff Police Department at (270) 351-TIPS or Crimestoppers at 800-597-8123.

He advised churches to invest in inconspicuous security cameras and to set up a phone tree or system so someone is checking on buildings daily.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.