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Thieves break into more rural churches in Barry County after rash of burglaries in November

Published: Dec. 6, 2020 at 9:02 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 6, 2020 at 9:27 PM CST
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BARRY COUNTY, Mo. (KY3) - The Barry County Sheriff’s Office dealt with a handful of church burglaries in November, and authorities continue to investigate others in December.

In the past week, a couple churches in East Purdy have been broken into, including Arnhart Baptist Church and New Hope Baptist Church.

”We had a computer system stolen. We had a Rolland keyboard stolen as well as a bass and a bass amp,” Katherine Hamblett with Arnhart Baptist Church said.

Authorities in Barry County said similar things have been stolen from other churches. In fact, these most recent church burglaries actually follow a handful that happened last month in Monett, Exeter and Purdy.

”It’s usually a pry-bar to the door or kicking the door open with their foot,” Barry County Detective Doug Henry said. “[It is the] same stuff, and of course it’s at night.”

Detective Henry said all of the churches have something in common.

”They’re hitting again these churches that are kind of off the beaten path, not in town or close to a town of where they can bee seen a lot,” Henry said.

The small congregation of Bethel Baptist Church was hit last month.

”You know I could see breaking into a house or a building, but breaking into a church is kind of a different deal,” Bethel Baptist Church member Robert Balmas said.

Henry said he recommended the churches install security cameras to help with the burglaries. Arnhart Baptist Church is doing just that.

”We were actually working on putting a security system in before this had happened and we just accelerated the timeline,” Hamblett said.

Henry said if that is not an option, it is still important to document everything you own.

”Just have everything well documented, serial numbers and stiff like that in case we find them or get sold,” he said.

One church also had catalytic converters cut of their buses. Henry said the thefts could be connected.

”Pretty positive they are,” he said. “We’ve also had some other storage unit break-ins and other thefts from some different businesses that we believe are probably the same people.”

In the meantime, Arnhart and other churches say they have been able to continue with their services.

Detective Henry said they have not made much progress finding the thefts. He said they are still investigating and searching for the stolen items. Henry also said they are still actively seeking tips.

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