Rash of church break-ins prompts police to step up patrols

4 houses of worships in Berks County targeted by thieves in recent weeks

Rash of church break-ins prompts police to step up patrols

GREENWICH TWP., Pa. - For the fourth time in two weeks, a church in Berks County has been ransacked and burglarized.

Police are working to determine if all four break-ins are connected, and now they're keeping a watchful eye around churches in the area.

New Jerusalem Zion United Church of Christ in Greenwich Township is the latest house of worship burglarized by thieves. The pastor found it ransacked Wednesday afternoon.

"Why our church? What did we do that we got punished for this?" asked Donald Stofflet, the consistory president of the church.

The culprit broke in through the side door sometime between Sunday and Wednesday, then destroyed one room after the other, said police.

Windows were left shattered, drawers ripped open and shelves and books inside the children's Sunday school room were knocked over. Inside the pastor's office, boxes and papers were thrown all over the floor and filing cabinets were completely torn apart.

The thieves did not get away with any money, but they caused at least $2,000 in damage throughout the entire church, said police.

"I feel bad for the church itself because this never happened here before," said Stofflet.

It's now the fourth church burglarized in Berks in two weeks time. On March 2, Trinity United Church of Christ in Mount Penn was hit, which caused more than $5,000 in damage. Days before that, St. Paul's Lutheran Church and Holy Trinity Church of God in Reading were both burglarized.

The thieves tore through the buildings and targeted the church's office. At St. Paul's, the thieves even used a holy candle to break through the pastor's office door.

"I feel bad for the people that did this. I think they should be punished for it and I think God will punish them his way," said Stofflet.

Police believe the first three break-ins are connected. Now, they're looking into the latest burglary to see if it's related.   

Investigators are working to determine exactly who is behind the spree. They are awaiting blood and fingerprint results that were taken from the scene.

If you know anything that can help police make arrests in these break-ins, call Crime Alert Berks County at 877-373-9913.

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