String of church burglaries

One community, five church burglaries just days before Christmas.

The churches that were hit were First Baptist Church of Ava, Ava Assembly of God, Ava Missionary Baptist Church, Pate Chapel Baptist Church, and New Life Tabernacle in Murphysboro.

Investigators think the same person, or group of people is responsible for all five break-ins.

The burglars made off with thousands in cash, combined.

A local pastor says these break-ins remind him of how so many in his community struggle financially during the holidays.

Sunday morning service was business as usual inside the New Life Tabernacle, but Saturday night was anything but.

The burglars came in the back of the building and used a crow-bar or something like it to wedge in between the door and the frame to get inside.

They walked down the hallway and broke into the secretary’s office.

Pastor Larry Worthen says drawers were opened and rummaged through and the safe was broken.

They made away with somewhere between $700 and $800 in cash and Christmas gifts for Sunday School students.

Pastor Worthen’s office was hit next, but with less success.

“There’s indentions all in there where they had a screw driver and they were trying to drive it in,” said Worthen.

Worthen says he knows times are tough during the holidays but says incidents like this hurt more than just the church.

“We like to think that our churches are establishments that are here to help better people in our communities,” said Worthen.

Investigators came to the churches to collect evidence and swab for finger prints.

If you have any information, contact the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department at (618) 684-2177.

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