Crimes target houses of worship in central Pa.

| September 25, 2011

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Collection plate money, copper downspouts and even church van parts — for some unscrupulous thieves, Franklin County's houses of worship have apparently become a source of easy cash.

At least eight area churches have fallen victim to some type of crime in the past month. All but one of those incidents, the reported vandalism of a van, involved thefts. Many agree that the trend is likely a product of an ailing economy.

"Perhaps people are becoming more desperate for funds to take care of their needs and perhaps they are willing to take greater risks and take things, even from places where they wouldn't usually," said Pastor Rocky Spear of Mogul Church near Shippensburg.

On Sunday, Sept. 11, someone reportedly stole $661 from his church's locked office. Pennsylvania State Police, Chambersburg, said the theft happened between 12:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. There was no evidence of forced entry, so it appears the thief used a key.

The church has a congregation of about 200 people, and in his five years of ministry there, Spear can't recall a similar incident. He said the church was burglarized a few years before his tenure began.

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Category: Church Security