YUMA, Ariz. – Broken windows, doors busted open and piles of glass filled the floors of Calvary Lutheran Church as a result of four burglaries.
Pastor Michael Kessler says the break-ins are getting progressively worse. The first break-in occured on December 1st, at night where a couple hundred dollars worth of items were stolen in the garage next to the churches office. Then a week later on December 8th, the same thing happened only this time a credit card, laptop and projector were taken from the office.
Pastor Kessler says the damage to the building was worse. “Drawers had all been opened, a window was broken, books were all over the floor.” The burglars even used the churches washing machine to clean their clothes.
The following week on December 15th another break-in and burglary occurred. This time, some cash was taken but the damage was more extreme.
Pastor Kessler says, “The mess they left was horrific. They pulled out drawers and completely emptied them and threw the drawer of to the side.”
To get inside the building, the burglars sawed off part of the door where the deadbolt is. Allowing the door to swing open easily. They also unscrewed the outside light bulbs to minimize the attention. The most recent break in was on February 3rd, where the burglars attempted to break into the church by cutting part of the door off like the previous break-in but it didn’t work. They instead through a brick through one of the glass windows to get in.
Once inside they stole 60 small communion chalices each worth about $300 for a combined total of $18,000 from all the break-ins. They then broke open another door and escaped.
Pastor Kessler says it took days to clean up each individual mess. It was especially hard to do because it was during advent.
Yuma police are investigating finger prints and blood that were left at the scene. The credit card that was stolen was recently used at a Home Depot. Police believe the same people breaking into the church.
Even with all the damage done and religious items taken, Pastor Kessler says he is willing to forgive those who did this, but says they need to be held accountable.
“We don’t wish any ill will for the people who did this. We want justice, but we are also willing to forgive,” Kessler says.