String of burglaries at area churches - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

String of burglaries at area churches

IOWA (KWWL) - Investigators in three eastern Iowa counties are investigating a rash of church break-ins this week.  Churches in Traer and Holland noticed items missing Monday.  Churches in Dike, Reinbeck, and Cedar Falls discovered the break-ins Wednesday.  The burglaries come at a time of year when people are supposed to be giving - not taking.

"They busted in the door here," says Liberty Baptist Church pastor Dennis Sanders.  He discovered items missing from his church office in Dike Wednesday morning.  Burglars busted in a back window then rifled through the church.  They took a guitar and one stereo speaker.

"I noticed when I opened the door two things: Things were out of place and it was very cold," said Sanders.

While burglars didn't get any money at the church, investigators say it's just one in a string of church burglaries in the area.  They investigated similar burglaries in 2006, also around the holidays.

"Most people think that churches are unlocked for people to go to worship at anytime but again, they're a place where things of value are, too," said Grundy County Sheriff's Investigator Ron Tordoff.

Sheriff's deputies say there are more break-ins this time of year in general. They say that's because of two reasons: There's more nightfall and there's more of a need for cash. But one thing the crooks aren't counting on this time of year is they're probably going to leave their tracks behind.

Investigators say while that gives them a good start, it's more helpful if people with information come forward.  They say any piece of information could help.  Meantime, Dennis Sanders and other area church leaders wonder why places of refuge are now scenes of a crime.

"The Christmas season is supposed to be the season of giving. Christ came to give his life for the world and what a great example that is and this season of things, that's just a reversal of that whole concept," said Sanders.

Law enforcement officials are urging congregation members to check on their church buildings a little more often for signs of trouble. If you have any information on any of the burglaries, call your local police department or sheriff's office.

Online Reporter:  Bob Waters

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