So much for the holiday spirit — Lincoln County authorities are investigating a spate of break-ins at local churches over the past two weeks.
Four churches have been burglarized since Dec. 2, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said. A fifth church was broken into in Gaston County, and the Lincoln sheriff’s office said it believes the crimes are connected because they were in the same area south of Lincolnton.
Jim Cape, pastor of Community Full Gospel Church, was playing Santa for a bunch of children when his son-in-law told him about a break-in where TVs, musical equipment and other items were stolen from the church.
“It was disheartening,” Cape said, but he couldn’t allow himself to look upset in front of the kids.
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He said he would pray for whoever stole the items while also hoping for restitution, and added, “You can replace things but you can’t replace a person’s soul.”
The sheriff’s office detailed what happened In the Lincoln County cases:
▪ Last Thursday, Long Shoals Wesleyan Church on Wesleyan Church Road was burglarized, and a TV and X-Box were stolen. There was no signs of forced entry.
▪ Last Wednesday, a break-in was reported at Trinity Second Chance Church on Laboratory Road. Congregants coming for Bible study found the main church door broken. A bass guitar and case was stolen.
▪ On Dec. 5, deputies responded to Howard’s Creek Baptist Church on Highway 27. A side door was pried open, the pastor’s study was ransacked and two buckets with money for the church building fund had been stolen.
▪ And on Dec. 3, a cleaning person discovered the break-in at Community Full Gospel Church on Laboratory Road. The front area of the church had been ransacked. Thieves made off with items including televisions, speakers, a bass guitar and an amplifier worth $1,650. They apparently broke in through an unsecured window.
Cape said the church is enhancing security by putting up a steel door and looking to add steel bars to two front windows. The church was established in the 1960s and has about 55 to 60 members, Cape said.
Authorities are continuing to investigate the break-ins.
Anyone with information about the cases is asked to call the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office at 704-732-9050, Lincoln County Communications Center at 704-735-8202 or Lincolnton/Lincoln County Crime Stoppers at 704-736-8909.