Police: Teenagers behind burglaries

Published: Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

Two Alachua teenagers were behind a series of church burglaries where some buildings were vandalized, police reported Tuesday.

Alachua Police arrested a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old over the weekend, said Detective Darry Lloyd. The pair, who both live near the churches, are facing 45 counts of criminal mischief and burglary.

A tip led police to the two boys, who Lloyd said had been bragging about the break-ins that occurred in November.

"Whoever heard it reported it," Lloyd said.

Using the information, officers located the two, who took police to an abandoned home off of NW 138th Street. Police recovered most of the stolen items taken from the churches at the building.

Lloyd said the two have been linked to burglaries at the First Presbyterian Church, Hope Community Church and First Baptist Church in Alachua. Some of the churches had been broken into more than once. Police believe the teenagers also broke into two vehicles near Hope Community Church and are investigating whether they could be linked to other unsolved burglaries in the city.

Pastor Douglas Felton at the First Baptist Church in Alachua said people were upset thieves had entered buildings at the church. "I think the vandalism upset people even more, just because there was no purpose to it. It seemed to be just meanness," he said.

The burglars didn't enter the church's sanctuary but the fellowship hall and youth house, Felton said. A fire extinguisher was set off, and eggs were thrown.

A projector and a sound system were stolen, Felton said.

Lloyd said the burglars broke windows to enter some buildings. A door had not been locked at one location.

Police don't know why the teenagers picked the churches to break into, Lloyd said.

Felton said residents pulled together to clean up the damage.

"We were really pleased that the police were able to find out who did it and recover the stuff," he said. "You don't want to be cynical. You want to live in a community and be open and this kind of stuff kind of damages it a little bit."

Lise Fisher can be reached at 352-374-5092 or fisherl@gvillesun.com.

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