Two Baptist churches among string of robberies in east Alabama

Two Baptist churches among string of robberies in east Alabama

Two churches in Tuskegee Lee Baptist Association were burglarized in recent weeks as part of a larger string of church robberies in the area.

Most recently Elam Baptist Church, Tallassee, was broken into sometime during the night of June 3 after the church had been locked up from Sunday evening services.

“They trashed my office and the secretary’s office, every place they went,” Pastor Joe Fain said.

Two 70-inch TVs were stolen and the two big ones in the sanctuary were broken in the process of the burglars trying to get them down off the walls, he said.

The intruders also tampered with the church safe but were unable to break into it, Fain said.

No one has been arrested in connection with the burglaries yet.

“It’s just something we’re having to put up with in the area right now,” Fain said.

First Baptist Church, Reeltown, in Notasulga, was also broken into several weeks ago, with similar vandalism and items stolen.

“They went through the entire church and got anything they could steal and use easily, like TVs and DVD players,” Pastor Tim Smith said. “That’s pretty much been the pattern at other churches as well. They cut the phone lines to disable alarm systems. And anything that’s on the walls or in cabinets or drawers, it’s pulled out on the floor.”

Smith said the robbery is “disheartening, but it’s not going to stop us from pressing on.”

“It’s all the more reason to go out and share the gospel, because the need is there,” he said.

While not all robberies are preventable, Mark Wakefield, disaster relief strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, offered these tips for securing your church as best as possible:

  • Have plenty of lighting. Consider LED lights. This helps prevent mischief and makes the area safer for attendees.
  • Remove landscaping that may be blocking windows and may become a hiding place for criminals.
  • Sturdy doors and commercial locks are recommended. Residential doors and locks are not as strong.

Consider an alarm system. There are options that are not overly expensive (SimpliSafe). Alarms with outside sirens and a strobe warning system are good.

•Ask local law enforcement to look at your property and make specific suggestions. (TAB)