Crime & Courts

Churches in Richland County are being targeted by destructive burglars, cops say

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department is looking for the suspect, or suspects, who have been targeting area churches in a series of burglaries.

Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Haskell Heights Progressive Baptist Church and Genesis Church of God have all been burglarized and vandalized in the past 12 days by the same suspect, according to a news release from the sheriff’s department.

The first incident occurred Feb. 13 at Mt. Olive Baptist Church on 1700 Blue Ridge Road, where the suspect kicked in a back door and “destroyed the pastor’s study” in addition to other rooms before stealing the church’s emergency fund, the sheriff’s department reported.

At Haskell Heights Progressive Baptist Church, on 1323 Townsend Street, a burglary occurred sometime between Feb. 17-19, when a suspect broke through the front door and an office door before stealing “two jugs full of change,” according to the news release.

On Feb. 20, the sheriff’s department said a window was broken and cash was stolen from the Genesis Church of God at 1215 Heyward Brockington Road.

In addition to the stolen property, the suspect has caused thousands of dollars worth of damage during the church break ins, according to the news release.

Surveillance footage shows a possible suspect, and the sheriff’s department is asking for the community’s help in making an identification.

Anyone with information is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 888-CRIME-SC or submit an online tip.

Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State focused on breaking news, public safety and trending news. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.