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Equipment stolen from churches, library

December 14, 2011
Thieves recently made four stops in the Leavenworth area in one night and were focused on the same items at all four places.

According to the Crawford County Sheriff's Department, the first place hit was the Breeden Memorial Library. Lt. Debra Young responded to the call and discovered thieves had broken in through a rear door of the building where the food pantry is located sometime during the early morning hours of Dec. 7. It was then determined that the intruders were mainly interested in electronic equipment.

"They did quite a bit of damage as well," Young said. "They broke a lock on the back door and also pried out a window, probably to pass items out. They ended up taking a projector, a camera, a laptop and even a bunch of DVD movies."

Deputy Jeff Howell went to Leavenworth to assist in the investigation but was called to a local church when a break-in was reported there as well.

"I first went to the Christian Missionary Church," Howell said. "Then I went to the Beechwood Bible Holiness Church. They broke in through the back doors of both places and went through the churches. They were mainly focused on electronic and sound equipment, like speakers and microphones, and even took some guitars."

After investigating the break-ins at the two churches, Howell had a hunch.

"There was another church in between the two that were burglarized," Howell said. "It was the Tower Gospel Church. So, I decided to check it out as well."

Howell's hunch paid off. He found that Tower Gospel Church also had been entered.

"They busted the rear door and made themselves at home there, too," he added. "It was the same M.O. as the other places, so we knew right off it was the same people involved."

At least one of the churches had a security system, but the thieves stole part of that as well. And police believe an attempted break-in at a Harrison County church may be linked to the ones in Crawford County.

"I believe the church in Harrison County had an audible alarm that scared them off," Young said. "But I think it was the same people; they just went down the line. They must have had a large van or truck in order to haul away everything they took. But stealing from God's house, I have a problem with that."

Both Howell and Young noted that the investigation is continuing and would like anyone who may have seen something or who may have information about the break-ins to contact the sheriff's department or 911 dispatchers in Crawford County.

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