Church burglars in Austin strike again

A burglar was caught on surveillance video stealing from inside of a church auditorium last week.

This is just one of a few recent crimes where sanctuaries have been targeted.

About four months ago, two men stole religious necklaces and medallions from St. Mary Cathedral.

Now another church burglary has happened.

This time, during the day.

Praising the lord is a great deal of importance to the members of Hillcrest Baptist Church.

The worship team practices weekly.

It was Tuesday, March 10th that a guitar was left in the auditorium.

The same guitar that you see in surveillance video being taken by a female suspect.

"When folks come to worship, you know, we don't want to have to worry about who's going to take this, who's going to do that. It's sad and we just have to deal with it with today's society," says Michael Slaughter, associate music minister, Hillcrest Baptist Church.

On this security camera you see her walking into the auditorium.

Once inside she quickly works the light board, which isn't an easy task unless you're familiar with it.

"She knew exactly where to turn it off, which is this button here," says Slaughter.

Here she is walking down an aisle with the guitar in one hand and waving with the other.

Then she stops to take a good look at what she has, before walking out.

"She stood here and looked at the guitar and, oh this seems to be a nice brand and I think this is a great steal. That was just a little bit saddening for the person that the guitar was taken from," says Slaughter.

Since 2010, APD has investigated 189 church break-ins.

Last year there were 30 and so far this year, there have been at least 35.

On November 16th, FOX 7's security cameras captured two men walking toward St. Mary Cathedral.

Twenty minutes later, they're seen carrying a display case.

Court documents indicate that $2,000 worth of jewelry was stolen and a statue of the Virgin Mary was damaged.

It was on September 21st that St. John Baptist Association was the victim of arson and vandalism.

Suspects broke glass, wrote obscenities on the walls, overturned pianos and even drew upside down crosses on the doors.

It's something that Hillcrest Baptist Church hopes will come to an end.

"It is sad that they're coming to the churches and trying to take things from the church but we're still about helping folks. It's not like we're out to put someone behind bars, we want to help them get their life back together, get there life back on track," says Slaughter.

Hillcrest Baptist says the stolen guitar was worth $3000.

As a result, they will be increasing their security.

If you recognize the female from the surveillance video, you are asked to call the Austin Police Department.

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