Multiple churches burglarized in recent days

For the last week, churches around Cairo have been the target of a burglar, but it appears all of the effort has reaped the suspect little reward.
Since Monday, Oct. 16, eight churches have been burglarized with one of them broken into twice. In all but one of the cases, evidence indicates the perpetrator entered the houses of worship by forcing his way through locked doors.
The churches targeted were Christ Gospel, Full Gospel, First Assembly of God, First Church of the Nazarene, First United Methodist, First Baptist, Gordon Heights Baptist, and Memorial Baptist.
The first case was reported the morning of Monday, Oct. 15 at First Baptist Church, 30 Sixth Ave. NW. The church employee told Cairo Police Sgt. Bruce Womble that forced entry was made through a door to the Fellowship Hall, and then through a locked interior door. Those doors plus another interior door were damaged in the burglary. Several office drawers were opened and a small amount of cash was reported missing. The church had last been secured about 12 hours earlier.
At Christ Gospel Church, 1211 N. Broad St., a burglary was reported at 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 18. A church co-pastor and employee had arrived to find a door left unlocked. They told Cairo Police Sgt. Shannon Lang they then discovered a side door had been broken and two church offices had been entered and both office doors damaged. Nothing was reported missing. The burglary could have happened any time between that morning and the last time the church was known to be secure on the Sunday prior, Oct. 15, at 8:30 p.m.
Two days later, on Friday, Oct. 20, Cairo Police Ptl. A.J. Childs responded to an alarm at Gordon Heights Baptist Church, 1351 Fifth St. SE at 2:27 a.m. Cairo Police Lt. Dwight Patten also responded to the scene and found a door open on the north side of the building leading into a courtyard. The officers walked through the building, but nothing seemed to be damaged or out of place. When the pastor arrived, he, too, found everything in place until he attempted to lock the door found opened. Although there was no visible signs of damage, the door would not lock.
Two days after that, on Sunday, Oct. 22 at 9:03 a.m., Full Gospel Chapel, 862 First St. SW, reported a burglary. Sometime between Thursday at 7 p.m. and that Sunday morning, someone forced his way through a Fellowship Hall door to enter the building then broke open two interior doors damaging them and the door frames. Again, nothing reported missing.
Less than an hour later, at 9:55 a.m., Cairo First Church of the Nazarene, 311 Fifth St. NE, called Cairo Police about a burglary. The pastor told Ptl. Chris Sapp that a church member had found a back door forced open and the door frame busted the night before, but since it appeared nothing was missing they waited until the next morning to alert police.
Less than 24 hours later, at 2:05 a.m., Monday, Cairo Police Ptl. Brandon Griffin discovered a door open at First Assembly of God, 495 12th Ave. NE. Griffin, along with other officers from Cairo Police and Grady County Sheriff’s Office, searched the church and found five doors forced open throughout the building. The pastor said it appeared nothing was missing from the scene. The church was last secured approximately six hours earlier.
At 2:56 a.m. Monday, Grady County Sheriff’s Sgt. J. Riggins reported finding an open door and broken door frame at Memorial Baptist Church on Park Boulevard NE. Ptl. Griffin responded to the scene and turned the case over to police Investigator Wandelll Asbell.
Less than seven hours later, at 9:28 a.m., an employee of Cairo First United Methodist Church reported one office door kicked open and several other interior doors left opened that are usually closed. Nothing was reported missing. Although there was no sign of forced entry, the employee told Cairo Police Ptl. Kris Weaver that the church is usually left open on Sundays until 6 p.m. The case was turned over to C.P.D. Investigator Giovani Santos.
Finally, five hours later, a member of Cairo Church of the Nazarene called Cairo Police back to the church, just one day after filing an initial burglary report. At 2:33 p.m. the member reported to Cairo Police Ptl. Tommy Gainous that he had discovered a back door open and a small, blue cardboard box of change missing. Window blinds in a Sunday School office were reported damaged and doors to a refrigerator and food warmer left open. The case was turned over to Investigator Santos.
In all but one of the break-ins, it appears the suspect left the churches empty handed. Investigator Santos says officers are following up on evidence and leads found at the scenes as the investigation continues. Anyone with information that may assist officers in making an arrest should call 911.

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