NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Metro Nashville Police Department is investigating after five burglaries at local churches occurred last week.
“They came here first and checked this door, trying to open it up,” said Scott Hawkins, Chairman of the Deacons at Antioch First Baptist, pointing to the garage door that sits behind the main building.
Hawkins said earlier this week, someone driving a black pickup truck drove through the grass and onto the church property.
“Luckily we have alarms everywhere and cameras everywhere,” Hawkins said.
He said this is the fourth time the church has been broken into. Crimes ranging from a brick being thrown into a window to a truck backing into the garage in an attempt to steal the basketball goal have happened over the years, according to Hawkins.
According to police, entry was made through broken windows or unlocked doors. Most of the burglaries involved minor thefts, one in which police made one arrest.
In a separate incident not related to Antioch First Baptist, police said Gilbert Richardson was found inside St. Marks Church in the kitchen drinking a soda. The suspect remained on the scene and police believe he is “likely responsible for the previous burglaries as well.”
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Police said Richardson could be linked to burglaries at Vine Glenn Baptist church, where someone forced entry into a rear window. On May 3, Crossroads Church reported someone attempted to remove a window located in the rear of the building. In another report at Hall Memorial Baptist, police said someone attempted to break-in, resulting in damage to a window screen.
“It’s places that are available for them where they figure no one is going to be there to see me. I’m hoping it’s not people have something against churches,” said Hawkins, who believes churches make an easy target for crime.
Police are urging faith leaders and churches to stay vigilant. They are asking leaders to make sure to lock the doors before leaving, keeping the entrances and parking lot well lit, to have security cameras and possibly security camera signs on the property.