SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Springfield burglars are targeting area churches and police say they've struck seven times in seven days.
One of those churches is Springfield First Church of Nazarene. As congregation member Bonnie Williams walks through the ransacked offices, she says she’s shocked and angry, but willing to forgive.
“Paper was everywhere and it just looked like a teenage tantrum had come in,” said Williams. “I’d tell [the burglars] that 'We will find you. We love you, but we will turn you in. You need to pay your penalty.'”
First Church of Nazarene was the sixth church break-in within just a week, with one more to follow. Burglars kicked in doors and pried open locks making off with $2,000 in tithe contributions, a computer modem and router, six walkie-talkies and parts of security cameras.
Police say it’s a running theme among all of the recent burglaries. Russ Boring of the Springfield Police Department said the break-ins all happened in the early morning hours, all had signs of forced entry, and that all the stolen items were small electronics or money.
“It’s surprising because usually the churches are the places that help the homeless and people that need help,” said Boring. “Usually if someone needs something the church works very hard to get them the basics.”
First Church of the Nazarene, Twin Rivers Baptist Church and First Baptist Church are among the churches broken into.
KVAL News was with Springfield police Saturday afternoon when they received word of a burglary at First Baptist late Friday night. It is the second time in one week thieves had broken into that particular church.
Springfield has a history of church burglaries. In 2005, police arrested two brothers, Timothy John Martin and Douglas Randall Martin, in connection to a string of 30 church burglaries.
Officer Boring said one of those brothers is currently in jail, but the other is not. Boring said police do not know if that brother has any connection to the newest string of burglaries.
Police said they’re taking the case very seriously and they are asking for the public’s help in identifying any suspicious people around Springfield churches at night.
As for Bonnie Williams, she said she isn’t daunted by the burglaries. She’s confident area churches will persevere just as she plans to do.
“Maybe there are those out there that want to stop us,” Williams said. “They can’t. They can slow us down, but they can’t stop us.”