Church Burglaries

January 3, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Several Valley Churches vandalized over the holiday season are feeling a little redemption tonight, after Kingsburg police arrested a 16 year old in connection with the burglaries.Police believe the suspect could be responsible for burning out baby Jesus' eyes in a nativity scene.

The break-in's just before Christmas left five Kingsburg churches feeling more than just robbed.

"It's really almost terrorized the community of Kingsburg."

Pastor Ed Ezaki: "You know that crime is going to happen but you just wish that people would have respect, especially during the Christmas season for the religious institutions in town."

Thursday Kingsburg police displayed some of the property they recovered after arresting a 16 year old suspect they believe burglarized churches and homes, taking items ranging from priests robes and crosses to money bags and microphones.

So far, they do not have a motive.

Jeff Dunn, Kingsburg Police Chief: "They have a lot of sentimental value to the churches and the individual people that have been victimized but some of them don't have a lot of really resale value to a criminal."

At the Kingsburg Assembly of God Church, just as police announced an arrest, an alarm company worked to install a security system.

Church leaders say the burglary and burning out of baby Jesus' eyes showed them crime knows no boundaries.

Pastor Henry Katz: "I would almost like to see them come to each of the churches and apologize for what they've done. Because I think they've crossed the line as far as churches are concerned."

In addition to felony burglary charges, police plan to charge the 16 year old with an additional charge of a hate crime for targeting churches.

Investigators are hoping to make several more arrests and hopefully recover more of the electronics stolen in the crime spree.


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