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Rural churches report audio gear stolen

By Chris Paschenko
DAILY Staff Writer 340-2442

FALKVILLE — Morgan County investigators are asking for the public's help in solving a series of church burglaries in rural areas near Falkville.

Investigator Terry Kelly said Tuesday members of five churches reported thefts of video and sound equipment between Saturday night and early Monday morning.

"Entry was made to the last four churches in a very similar manner," Kelly said. "Sound and video equipment, a video camera, two mixing boards, speakers, and a public address system were taken. There was some rifling for cash in some places, and they did get a little cash."

Somerville Police Chief Chris Landers said Tuesday that officers are investigating a break-in at Ward Chapel Church on Bluff City Road. He said nothing was reported stolen.

The thief or thieves likely targeted the South Morgan County churches near the Cullman County line because they are in rural areas mostly obscured from view by passers-by, Kelly said.

"Ebenezer church on (Alabama) 157 near Campground Road may not be connected," Kelly said.

"It was hit Saturday and reported Sunday. They took a window air conditioning unit, but there was apparently no entry into the church."

The four remaining churches in the area all reported break-ins and thefts, Kelly said.

"We suspect a smaller-type car or truck was used," Kelly said. "We did have some tire tracks to processes that were 50 inches from the inner surfaces of the tires. We also
had some trace evidence processed."

The other burglaries were reported at New Hope Church on Wilhite Road, Mountain Missionary Church on Wilson Mountain Road, Hills Chapel Church on Hills Chapel Road and Mount Nebo Church on Mount Nebo Road, Kelly said.

"The word is being put out," Kelly said. "Somebody's selling this stuff, and maybe someone knows a friend with a couple of mixing boards and stereo equipment that they didn't have before. These are not rich churches. They're small country churches getting by on a shoestring budget for sure."

Kelly urged anyone with information to call his office at 351-4899, the Sheriff's Department at 351-4800, investigator Kyle Wilson at 351-4897 or after hours at 301-1174.

"There's a special space in hell reserved for them," Kelly said. "We've talked with a couple of churches, and ... it's a shame to have to put an alarm in a church. It's supposed to be a sanctuary."

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