Four churches robbed in four days

CLEARWATER, Fla. - -- NEW INFORMATION --

St. Petersburg Police have made an arrest connected to a string of church burglaries in Clearwater and discovered their suspect may have targeted a church in St. Petersburg, as well.

According to a release, they arrested Scott Edward Regan, 44, and charged him with burglary and grand theft in connection to robberies at Grace Lutheran Church and Skycrest United Methodist Church.

Additional charged are pending.

According to the St. Petersburg Police Department, Regan is also being charged with burglarizing the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church at 600 49th Street North.

--ORIGINAL STORY--

Clearwater Police say they need your help.  In the space of four days, from February 22 to 25, four churches were broken into and robbed.  According to Clearwater Public Information Officer Elizabeth Watts all of them are within a few blocks of each other.

The first hit was The Light of Christ Catholic Church on Marilyn Street last Thursday.  The next day, the Grace Lutheran Church on Highland Ave was broken into.  And then, just last Sunday, two were hit.

Doris Campbell works at Friendship United Methodist Church on Druid Road.  Doris told us she spent Monday cleaning up after someone jumped a gate, broke in a window, and then trashed an office, opening drawers and tossing things everywhere.

In the end, she says, all they got away with was, "A little over $5 in coins, and a Garmin GPS."  Next to nothing, because the donations collected that day had already been counted and dropped off to the bank.

It was a similar story over at Skycrest United Methodist Church on Drew, where according to Office Manager, Jo Dall, someone kicked in a window and then worked their way through a maze of hallways and rooms, right to a back area where a safe was hidden.

I pointed out to Dall that it appeared as if the person responsible knew exactly where to go, to which she replied, "There's always that possibility that it was in-house. You just don't know." What Jo does know is that all the person got away with was petty cash, because again everything that was collected that day, had already been dropped off at the bank.

The sad reality, though, for both Doris and Jo is that whoever is responsible, should know that they are not stealing from the church, but from the community.  "As a church, we get a lot of people who just come in and ask for money, bus passes, food, whatever they can get." Jo would explain, "And we provide as much as we can."

Doris would sum it up by saying, "We're here to serve."

If you have any information on who may be responsible you are being asked to call Clearwater Police at (727) 562-4080.

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