South Tampa church construction site theft

Posted at 2:51 PM, Dec 27, 2015

A South Tampa church discovered Saturday morning that its construction site was hit by thieves on Christmas Day.  The crooks took off with thousands of dollars in tools.

Southside Baptist Church is growing so much that it's building a huge new sanctuary.  inside, a small trailer with tools locked and chained up, was broken into while the job site was shut down for the holiday.

John Foster and his partner Jeff travel around the country, giving their time and talents to help build churches.  For the past few weeks, they've been helping construct a new auditorium at Southside Baptist in Tampa.

"I never liked a job that I worked, but I love what I do now, and it has eternal value," said John Foster with Independent Church Builders.

The Independent Church Builders are missionaries, relying on donations and a trailer of tools to do their work  But Christmas Day, someone broke into their trailer, inside the job site, and stole nearly everything inside--more than $5,000 worth of equipment.

"You feel like your space has been violated.  You feel like you've been taken advantage of.  You know, we'd taken all the precautions we could possibly take, locking things up, and it wasn't enough," said Foster.

The church is devastated to see hard-working missionaries become crime victims.

"When you have guys that are trying to be a blessing, give of themselves, and these tools that they lost really enabled them to do that and to have people come in and take advantage of that, our hearts are really heavy for them," said Pastor Kerry Nance with Southside Baptist Church.

But the Independent Church Builders aren't letting it get them down.  They're relying on their faith, trusting that everything will be okay.

"I haven't really thought a lot about how I'm going to take care of this.  I really don't worry about that part of it, because I know it'll be taken care of.  God doesn't call you to do something and leave you out there," Foster said.

Southside Baptist Church is planning to take up a special love offering to help the Independent Church Builders recoup some of their losses during Sunday morning's service at 11 a.m.  If you'd like to help, donations can be sent to the church.

Meanwhile, a new lock and alarm have been installed on the construction trailer.  Tampa Police are investigating the theft.