Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Public safety

Burglars with sweet tooth break into four Clearwater churches

CLEARWATER ­— The intruder left a trail of blood and Pixy Stix.

Doris Campbell, treasurer at Friendship United Methodist Church, walked into her office Monday to find her file cabinet drawers open and her Garmin GPS missing. Candy wrappers and a bloody tissue littered the floor.

"Very strange," she said. "It looked like they cut themselves. Then they got comfortable and stayed a while."

Between Friday and Monday, four Clearwater churches were burglarized, according to Clearwater police reports. The crimes remained under investigation Tuesday.

Beyond Campbell's GPS, someone swiped $5 worth of coins from Friendship United Methodist on Druid Road E between 2 p.m. Sunday and 9 a.m. Monday. Luckily, she said, the church started depositing most of its Sunday collection in a bank night deposit box nearly two years ago, after a similar break-in.

The intruder pried open an outside window, broke down the pastor's office door and rooted through desks in Sunday school classrooms.

"They must have been pretty disappointed," Campbell said, adding that the church now plans to install an alarm system. "They didn't get much."

At Light of Christ Church on Marilyn Street, a burglar slipped through a window into the Parish Hall on Friday and took an unspecified amount of cash from a religious goods shop, said a church employee. Nothing was vandalized. Nothing unusual was found.

At Skycrest United Methodist Church on Drew Street, someone partially shattered a window into the education building between 1:30 p.m. Sunday and 8 a.m. Monday, said office manager Jo Dall. The church is now considering surveillance cameras.

"They only stole a little bit of cash, but none of our electronics," she said. "It wasn't serious. We were lucky."

At Grace Lutheran Church on Highland Avenue, an intruder broke through an outside door panel and stole a church-owned van after finding the keys between Sunday and Monday, Pastor Pam Smith said.

"They took a very small amount of cash," she said, "and a box of cookies from one of our freezers."

The intruder drove the white van with blue church lettering about a mile before getting out and leaving the keys in the ignition. The box of cookies remained in the back seat.

"We have a great deal of care and concern for our community," Smith said. "In light of this, we offered prayer for whoever was involved."

Danielle Paquette can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4224. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Comments
Fingerprint on Gatorade bottle leads to arrest of man, 23, in sexual assault of 71-year-old woman

Fingerprint on Gatorade bottle leads to arrest of man, 23, in sexual assault of 71-year-old woman

NEW PORT RICHEY — The 23-year-old man wanted in connection with sexually assaulting a 71-year-old woman on Monday left behind the clue that deputies said led them right to him: A fingerprint on a Gatorade bottle.Deputies said that and other evidence ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
County gives initial support to adding deputies at Hernando elementary schools

County gives initial support to adding deputies at Hernando elementary schools

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Commission on Tuesday informally supported adding as many as 10 school resource officers in county schools, including one for every elementary school, in an effort to bolster security in the wake of the deadly school...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Next stop for Parkland school shooting survivors: the Florida Capitol

Next stop for Parkland school shooting survivors: the Florida Capitol

PARKLAND — Students who survived the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School began a 400-mile journey to Florida’s capital Tuesday to urge lawmakers to prevent a repeat of the massacre that killed 17 students and faculty last week.Three buses carryi...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Man charged with killing wife who disappeared at sea

Man charged with killing wife who disappeared at sea

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A man who claimed his wife disappeared at sea when their boat collided with an unknown object near the Bahamas was charged Tuesday with killing her and intentionally trying to sink the vessel to cover his tracks.Lewis Bennett...
Updated: 10 hours ago
She drove drunk with a child in the backseat, deputies say. She said she ‘just got out of rehab’

She drove drunk with a child in the backseat, deputies say. She said she ‘just got out of rehab’

A Miami woman is accused of driving intoxicated with a child in the back seat of her car — and she told a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy that she "just got out of rehab," according to arrest recordsStephanie Roque, 30, was traveling through Welli...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Investigators find insufficient evidence against former state fair executive director

Investigators find insufficient evidence against former state fair executive director

TAMPA — Charles Pesano may have used his position as executive director of the Florida State Fair to funnel business to his family’s company, get Tampa Bay Rays tickets and have a hot tub installed in his Valrico home, but there is no evidence he com...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Girl, 12, sister of murder victim, found safe after leaving Bradenton home

Girl, 12, sister of murder victim, found safe after leaving Bradenton home

BRADENTON — Jalyssa Shannon, the sister of 13-year-old Riverview murder victim Janessa Shannon, was found safe Monday evening after leaving her mother’s Bradenton home Sunday, authorities said.Jalyssa was found about 7 p.m., according to the Manatee ...
Published: 02/20/18
Young child struck by vehicle in Tampa

Young child struck by vehicle in Tampa

TAMPA — A young child was injured after being struck by a vehicle Thursday morning, according to police.The crash involved a pedestrian and a vehicle near Myrtle Street and Serena Drive around 7:45 a.m., police said.The child sustained non-life threa...
Published: 02/20/18
Most Americans say Trump, Congress not doing enough to stop mass shootings, Post-ABC poll finds

Most Americans say Trump, Congress not doing enough to stop mass shootings, Post-ABC poll finds

More than 6 in 10 Americans fault Congress and President Donald Trump for not doing enough to prevent mass shootings, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, with most Americans continuing to say these incidents are more reflective of probl...
Published: 02/20/18
Romano: Until the Parkland shooting, lawmakers ignored requests for school safety funds

Romano: Until the Parkland shooting, lawmakers ignored requests for school safety funds

His words and his pleas are similar to what we’ve heard from others in recent days.Kids deserve to feel safe when they walk into a classroom in Florida. More security is needed. More boots on the ground would be helpful. Mostly, more money must be de...
Published: 02/20/18