|Reward offered in connection with church vandalism|
|Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor|
Two local churches were broken into overnight Sunday, with a safe stolen from one and $3,800 in criminal mischief damage done at the other.
Police at this point are saying that there does not appear to be a connection between the two burglaries, other than the fact that they were at churches.
Police first became aware that something was amiss at Centro Cristiano De Adoracion church Monday afternoon when a city resident reported finding a safe containing checkbooks with the church information on them alongside his garbage.
Church officials were contacted, and after an investigation it was determined that the safe, five checkbooks, legal papers for transactions regarding an adjoining property and three electric guitars valued at $200 each had been taken from the Locust Street church. Two windows at the church were also damaged. Church officials were able to identify the safe and checkbooks, which were returned to them, and the bank alerted to close the accounts.
Nothing was believed stolen in the break-in at St. James Catholic Church, but $3,800 in damages, primarily from vandalism, were reported. A pastor contacted police after discovering the education building at the church ransacked Monday night.
Items were strewn from shelves and various other surfaces onto the floor and throughout the building. There also were what appeared to be satanic or anti-Christian markings and slogans written on the walls with some type of marker, according to Detective-Sgt. Bo Fox.
At least three doors and one wall also sustained minor damages.
"Nothing was seriously damaged, but they've definitely got a lot of painting to do," Fox said.
"We have no suspects at this point," he added. "It could be hate-related, but it's hard to tell a motive without a suspect. It could have been kids that came in to do criminal mischief. What was written on the walls was of an anti-Christian nature. There were vulgarities and profanities."
Due to the extent of damage and type of vandalism, Sulphur Springs-Hopkins County Crime Stoppers is currently offering up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the person or parties responsible for the burglary at St. James Catholic Church. To report information call 903-885-2020. The information is handled in such a way that callers do not have to give their name, just their information.