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Area sees rash of church burglaries
church burglary frame
Bulloch County Chief Investigator Capt. Todd Hutchens speaks about 10 area church burglaries in the last two weeks in this still image taken from a video. - photo by Herald Photo
    Ten area churches were burglarized over the last two weeks, with the offenders taking microwaves, vacuum cleaners and paper towels, among other things. The items being stolen aren't what one would think burglars would bother with, but Bulloch County Chief Investigator Capt. Todd Hutchens feels the culprits may be taking things they need in their own households.
    The burglaries are very similar to a rash of similar church break-ins in 2006, he said. A man believed to be the ring leader of those burglaries is in federal prison, but Hutchens wonders if some of his " running buddies" may have decided to revive the burglary ring.
    Since April 28, 10 Bulloch County churches have been victimized, he said. Other churches in surrounding counties - candler, Evans, Jenkins, Tattnall and Toombs - have also been burglarized, with the offenders taking the same type items, he said.
    A couple of electronics items have been pilfered, but the thieves are mainly focusing on microwave ovens, television sets, small electronics, vacuum cleaners, and items such as paper plates, Styrofoam cups, paper towels and toilet tissue, he said.
    An electric guitar was taken from a Toombs County church, and a keyboard was taken from Bulloch County's own True Gospel Temple on Venson Road in Brooklet. But, the main things being stolen are items used in an average household, Hutchens said.
    The offenders are kicking church doors in, and when that doesn't work, they use tools to force the doors open, he said. The churches targeted seem to be rural country churches, some of which are only used once or twice a month.
    He urged church pastors and members to keep watch on their churches . :Send somebody by as a representative of your church every day" and report any suspicious activity, including descriptions of people or vehicles that  may not have reason to be around, he said.
    The offenders have also stolen things like canned drinks, trash cans, and paper goods.
    True Gospel Temple also lost a trimmer and vacuum cleaner, and the offenders damaged a water cooler around April 28.  Upper Mill Creek Church at Moore Road and Ga. 25 was burglarized between May 1-4, and the culprits took two microwaves and a vacuum cleaner.
    Union Baptist Church on Union Church Road in Register was burglarized May 3 or 4, and the offenders took a flat screen TV and microwave oven.  Scott's Creek Missionary Baptist Church, near Adabelle Road in Register, lost a trash can and several rolls of paper  towels and toilet tissue, according to sheriff's incident reports.
    Similar burglaries were reported at Mt. Zion AME Church at Gwinnette's Crossing near Stilson and Leefield; Nevils Creek Church in Clito; Ephesus Primitive Baptist Church in Register; Poplar Springs Church near Portal and Bassanger Tabernacle Baptist Church on Robert Franklin Road in Register, Hutchens said.
    Most of the burglaries have taken place early in the week, between Sunday and Wednesday, he said.
    Anyone with information regarding the church burglaries is asked to contact Hutchens at 764-8888.' We want the community to be aware and report activity that is not normal," he said.
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