South AL churches targeted in series of burglaries

A window is temporarily covered at a south Alabama church that fell victim to a burglary....
A window is temporarily covered at a south Alabama church that fell victim to a burglary. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Updated: Jul. 10, 2018 at 5:15 PM CDT
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(WSFA) - Counties across south Alabama are working together and investigating a string of church burglaries. Barbour, Coffee, Henry, Pike, and most recently Dale County have reported church burglaries.

"It takes a special person to break into a church," said Chief Deputy Mason Bynum with the Dale County Sheriff's Office.

It's not clear how many churches total have been hit, but the weekend leading up to the 4th of July saw three burglaries in Dale County alone.

Bynum says their department is working closely with investigators in other counties where churches were targeted because. based on the preliminary investigation, the cases might be linked.

"On ours, they went through a window. We've spoken to other investigators who have similar reports from burglaries as well," said Bynum, "Might not be the same individual, but the same group of individuals - the same crew."

Bynum says in addition to similar methods of breaking in, some of the same items are being taken like equipment and TVs. Bynum says they are monitoring social media, reviewing surveillance video, and conducting other investigative practices to track down whoever is responsible.

Ebenezer Baptist Church in Ozark was one of the churches targeted. Pastor Wendell Benner says a neighboring church pastor informed him their church had fallen victim.

"The pastor at New Tabernacle had driven by here and when he drove he saw the window," said Benner. "He circled around and saw it was broken and that's when he contacted us."

Benner says the intruders initially tried to get into the church through one window, but because of the window's height, they broke through the window near the office. He says they got away with at least two cordless microphones and something you can't put a price on.

"Any homeowner or business owner would feel as well - a little violated," the pastor says.

But the thieves also forgot a few things at the scene.

"Socks, when we got into the sanctuary there was a ladies shoe on the table, and a pair of glasses," Benner says, adding the people who broke in also used cleaned up in the women's bathroom.

Benner believes proximity and timing were the reasons the church was targeted.

"The church is a place where people probably gravitate to because obviously during the week - especially at night, it's not in use."

Investigators believe they are pretty close to making arrests in the case, but they are reminding people if they see anything suspicious to contact police and make sure they are taking extra measures to lock doors and use surveillance cameras if they can.

It's not clear the total value of the stolen goods, but in Dale County it's estimated that the stolen property is in the thousands.

Copyright 2018 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.