Thieves target cars at Berkeley churches

While worshippers were raising a joyful noise inside Berkeley Baptist Church on Sunday, thieves were making some noise of their own smashing car windows in the church parking lot.

Brittany White thought her pocket book would be safe inside her husband’s truck during the service at the Moncks Corner church on U.S. Highway 52. She was wrong. Thieves broke a window and made off with her purse, which contained her Social Security card, credit cards and other belongings.

“It’s very unsettling,” White said. “It makes you unsafe in the one place you should feel safe.”

Two other cars in the lot were hit as well, and that’s not the worst of it. Investigators told White that cars at two other area churches also were broken into during their Sunday services. What’s more, Berkeley County sheriff’s deputies already were investigating two similar incidents at other local churches in recent weeks. “I think it’s just terrible,” said sheriff’s spokesman Dan Moon.

Also hit Sunday were Oakley Road Church of God on Oakley Road and Gateway Community Church on U.S. Highway 17A, Moon confirmed.

Two cars had their windows smashed outside Gateway Church on Sunday morning, Pastor Dave Boyer said. He had just preached about getting back to the basics by loving God and neighbor, when the congregation came outside to find their faith tested by evil.

“There was glass everywhere,” Boyer said. “They made a complete mess of both vehicles. It’s a shame, but it’s a sign of the times. Churches aren’t protected from things like this anymore.”

He recalled when an armed man walked into a Goose Creek church and robbed choir members at gunpoint. That was at St. James United Methodist Church in January.

A GPS unit stolen from one of the cars at Gateway Church was recovered that same afternoon at a local pawnshop, Boyer said.

Sunday’s incidents occurred two weeks after Macedonia Christian Church on Betsy Hole Road reported similar thefts. Another area church also was hit around that time, though the name of that church was not available Monday.

Moon said investigators are looking into the possibility that the break-ins are connected, but no definitive link has been established. There have been no arrests in any of these crimes, he said.

Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.