Deputies investigate string of church burglaries

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 | 5:35 p.m. CDT; updated 11:43 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 23, 2008

After a burglary in May, Pastor Dave Schawo installed deadbolts on the doors of Midway Heights Baptist Church. But after a string of church burglaries over the weekend — including one at Schawo's church — the pastor has more locks to install .

The Boone County Sheriff’s Department is also investigating the burglaries of the Grandview Baptist Church and the Midway Locust Grove  United Methodist Church.

The Grandview Baptist Church, located at 8300 N. Route Z, reported a broken window in an office to authorities Sunday morning.  A small amount of cash and candy was missing from the office.

Deputies also responded to break-in reports from the Locust Grove church at 2600 Locust Grove Road and the Midway Heights church, at 6801 W. Rollingwood Blvd., on Monday morning.

Both churches reported nothing missing, but each was damaged. At the Locust Grove church, an unlocked door was used to gain entry; at Midway Heights, a door was forced open. Three windows were broken at Midway Heights, and  Schawo’s office was broken into, though nothing was taken.

The two Midway churches are about 2 1/2 miles apart, according to a Google Maps search.

Schawo has been the pastor of the Midway Heights church for 25 years.

“We understand that we’re living in days where the church isn’t as respected as it use to be,” Schawo said. “It used to be churches never had to lock their doors.”

Because nothing was reported missing, Detective Tom O’Sullivan said, the suspects could be kids. “When you look at the whole picture, you have to take juveniles into consideration,” O’Sullivan said.

O’Sullivan also received a report from someone who saw hitchhikers acting suspiciously in the Midway area before the burglaries were reported.

Regardless of who committed the burglary, Schawo remains focused on the church’s work.

“We got a mission to do and a ministry to perform. We’re not going to let this kind of stuff slow us down,” Schawo said.

Anyone with information regarding any of the burglaries is encouraged to call CrimeStoppers at 875-TIPS (8477).

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