ROGERSVILLE — Two Hawkins County church burglaries that occurred within less than a week of each other aren’t believed to be connected, but Sheriff Ronnie Lawson is still advising area churches to take security precautions.
The most recent burglary was reported Thursday afternoon at Cedar Chapel Church, 276 Cedar Chapel Church Road, in a rural area south of Church Hill almost to the Sullivan County line at Bays Mountain.
James Ramey, who discovered the burglary, told the HCSO that the burglary occurred sometime between 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
Ramey said someone had apparently pried open the front door and the side door of the church, gaining entry to the church and the fellowship hall.
Deputy Mark Harrell stated that he observed pry marks on the front door and side door of the church, and there were pry marks on an east window of the church that had been broken out.
No items were found to be missing, but structural damage was estimated at $3,250, including $1,500 for the front door alone.
On June 23, HCSO Deputy Michael Lipe responded to a burglary complaint at My Father’s House Church, 3010 Highway 11-W, Surgoinsville.
Ronnie Christian, who discovered the burglary, told Lipe that the break-in occurred sometime between June 20 at 2 p.m. and June 22 at 12:20 p.m.
Pry marks were observed at the rear door where entry had been made into the church.
About $2,200 worth of property was reported missing including a 50-inch Saber flat screen TV, a surveillance video recorder, and two Dell computer towers.
Lawson said that although these two burglaries most likely aren’t related, it should serve as a reminder to churches that they aren’t immune from burglary and theft.
Lawson suggested that churches make sure their property is well lit at night, especially around the buildings.
Lawson added that churches should ask their neighbors to be alert and report any unusual activity on church property.
“For some reason it seems like these type of crimes occur in bunches, and I have stepped up patrol around churches, especially at night,” Lawson said.
“It usually takes a pretty desperate person to break into a church. If someone sees something going on, they should call 911 immediately, and don’t approach any suspects, but from a distance try to take note of any personal or vehicle descriptions.”
Anyone with information about the burglaries at Cedar Chapel Church or My Father’s House Church is asked to call the HCSO at (423) 272-4848.