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Friday, February 5, 2010

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Assistant Chief Lee Vance said he believes the same people are responsible for all the burglaries or break-ins in Jackson.

The most recent burglary was Tuesday night at New Jerusalem Church on Old Canton Road. Thieves broke a basement window and took about $15,000 in sound equipment and electronics.

The burglary happened sometime after a revival ended at 9:30 p.m. and 1 a.m., when a Jackson police officer on patrol spotted the broken window and called church officials who then discovered the missing items.

Church members still were cleaning up Thursday. The sound system had to be rewired because equipment was ripped out, said Alvin Jackson, associate pastor.

The church is getting estimates on additional security, including surveillance cameras, he said. It has an alarm, but it didn't go off during the burglary because it was not armed, Jackson said.

Parishioner Kizzy Lewis said the break-in made her sad more than anything.

"You need to be coming to church instead of breaking into church," she said.

In most of the break-ins, the perpetrators used bricks or rocks to smash the glass out of windows or doors.

They then ransacked the pulpits, offices and sanctuaries, taking video cameras, amplifiers, bass guitars, computers, televisions and more.

At Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, burglars stacked equipment near the broken front window, then took the items out through the window.

Police have not found a pattern in which churches are being hit, Vance said. Some of the churches are small with fewer than 100 members while others have larger congregations.

Vance said the burglars are motivated by money, and churches are easy targets. The items being stolen are pretty easy to sell on the streets, he said.

JPD is checking area pawn shops but has not recovered any of the stolen items. JPD also has directed patrols to check churches every hour throughout the night.

Morning Star Baptist Church hasn't been burglarized, and that's the way Rev. Bryan Wilson hopes it stays. The church is evaluating its security system, he said.

At Greater Bethlehem Temple, church officials have asked their alarm company to test the system and are making sure all locks work and that staff members know to secure the building upon leaving, communications director Ervin Ricks said.