Lancaster County Authorities Investigating Thefts From Church Properties
LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. — The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a series of vehicle break-ins and thefts from church properties.
The first incident occurred around noon at New Hope Baptist Church, 3731 Lynwood Drive at New Hope Road. The owner of an unlocked 2003 Chevrolet 2500 truck and attached trailer, found his truck and trailer missing after church.
The truck and trailer contained two firearms and power tools.
Witnesses saw the truck and trailer leave the parking lot followed by a dark colored car with no hub caps but assumed the victim was driving the truck.
The truck and trailer were found abandoned hours later in woods off New Hope Road between Beach Lane and Cabinet Drive. One of the firearms and the tools had been taken from the truck and the trailer, and the stereo had been removed from the truck.
At 12:20 p.m. a deputy was dispatched to Crestview Baptist Church at 2228 Douglas Road. The owner of a locked 2012 Chevrolet Impala was about to enter her car following church and noticed a small hole punched into the door below the driver’s door handle. The victim’s cell phone was missing from the center console.
At 1:30 p. m., the owner of a 2003 Honda Accord stopped a deputy in Indian Land to report that Sunday morning he attended services at Camp Creek United Methodist Church, 4721 Great Falls Highway. He noticed the contents of the passenger compartment of his unlocked car had been rummaged through and a $20.00 bill was missing, as he was leaving the church.
The last incident was reported just before 2:00 p.m. The owner of a 2004 Chevrolet pickup returned home from services at Bethel Baptist Church, 2893 Bethel Road, and noticed that his wallet containing identification and bank cards, a pistol, and cassette tapes were missing from his truck.
The truck was locked while he was in church and there were no signs of forced entry. The victim received an alert from his bank that one of his bank cards had been used at the Dollar General in Kershaw early Sunday afternoon. His wallet was found on the ground near the stolen truck and trailer in the woods off New Hope Road.
Video surveillance images from Crestview Baptist Church show a black or dark colored four-door sedan entering the parking lot during services. The car appears to have stock shiny wheels on one side and dark wheels on the other.
A black male wearing a black shirt, camouflage pants, and black shoes with white soles walked through the parking lot. Video from Dollar General shows a black male wearing similar clothing and a flat bill Chicago Bulls cap in the store at the time the transaction was made.
Investigators are uncertain whether the man at Crestview Baptist Church and the man at Dollar General are the same person, but at least two people were involved in the New Hope Baptist Church incident.
Investigators are asking for assistance identifying the person or persons shown in the photographs so they contact them to see if they know anything about the thefts.
“One of the last places we should expect our possessions to be taken is at church while we are worshipping,” said Sheriff Barry Faile. “From the facts we know so far, it appears these thefts are related and two or more people acted in concert to commit them. Our criminal and crime scene investigators are working hard to solve these cases, but we
encourage anyone with information about these incidents to contact us.”