A ‘rash of burglaries’ involving rural churches in Barry County, Mo.

Published: Nov. 13, 2020 at 10:34 PM CST
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BARRY COUNTY, Mo. (KY3) - Barry County has experienced a “rash of burglaries” involving several rural churches across the area, according to a Facebook post from the sheriff’s office.

Barry County Detective Doug Henry said a handful of churches in Monett, Purdy and Exeter have experienced break-ins. Right now he said he does not know if they are connected or not, but they do have some similarities.

“They’re all taking the same sort of stuff,” Henry said. “Sound equipment, maybe some instruments and other things of that nature.”

This is exactly what happened to a few churches just a few miles apart in Monett.

“I come up the road there and notice the door open," Bethel Baptist Church member Robery Balmas said. “And I thought well somebody’s at the church, one of the members or something.

Balmas soon realized someone had broken into his church.

”One door on the other side had a big foot print, maybe like you know where they tried to kick it in," Balmas said. “But both of them had been pried on by a bar.”

Speaker equipment and Sunday School CDs were stolen from the church. For a close-knit church community of about 15 members, Balmas said it was disappointing to find.

“You know I can see maybe breaking into a house or a building, but breaking into a church is kind of a different deal,” he said. “I mean the way I look at it, it’s a pretty serious deal. But when it’s already done and they’re gone, what do you do?"

Detective Henry said some churches experienced a different type of burglary.

”Grace Baptist was hit twice, then New Site up there was hit twice," he said. “New Site was a bit different because they target the vans.”

Henry thieves stole gas and cables from the vans at New Site Baptist Church in Monett. He also said some places might be more susceptible to break-ins when there is less traffic in the area.

“I don’t think they’re just targeting churches but I think it’s just a good soft target because where they’re located at, off the beaten path,” Henry said.

Henry had some advice for the churches, businesses and homeowners.

“You should put up some kind of, even if you just put up a game camera that helps," he said. "Even maybe an alarm system. But an alarm has never told me what a car looks like or what a suspect looked like, so I’m a bigger camera fan than I am an alarm fan.”

Balmas said his church is considering cameras, and Henry said other churches are as well.

Henry also said he recommends always making sure your insurance is in order and all of your belongings are documented.

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