Tulsa Church Burglary Ring Busted

Tuesday, December 2nd 2008, 9:28 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Four Tulsa churches have reason to celebrate now that they've been reunited with some of their stolen equipment.  All four churches were broken into over the past few weeks.  Detectives did a sting operation and found one suspect who was selling the electronics on Craig's List.  That link led police to the recovery of thousands of dollars of stolen loot.

Folks with Tulsa's Southeast Baptist Church arrived at the detective division with high hopes of retrieving the $6,000 worth of equipment that was stolen from them two weeks ago.  Another victim from another church spotted her stolen computer on Craig's List.  Detectives contacted the seller, met him to buy the computer and arrested him.

The suspect led detectives to an apartment full of stolen items and to Antonio Myrie, who's an ex-con.  He received a 10 year prison sentence in 2005, but is out on parole.

"We have motion sensors, but they made sure they didn't go where the sensors are," said Bill Bender with Southeast Baptist Church.

Bill's wife had seen the nursery's little automatic vacuum called a Roomba in a news report about the bust and called police.

Sure enough, several things from the church were recovered, including an audio mixer, a computer monitor and even the little vacuum.  Unfortunately, about half the church's items are not in the property warehouse and probably will be impossible to find.

"In his interview, Myrie did say he already sold many of the items on Craig's List or hand to hand," said Tulsa Police Detective Josh Martin.

Still, the church is grateful to have anything back, since they've been using borrowed equipment to get ready for the Christmas programs.

"We're extremely happy to get even half of it; it's great, wonderful, more than what we thought we'd get back," said Bill Bender with Southeast Baptist Church.

They feel God has been faithful to them and that matters more to them than any amount of property.

Records show Myrie also confessed to helping with the break-in at Tulsa's Name Brand Clothing store in August.  That store was set on fire after the burglary.     

More than 500 new burglary cases come in every week and Tulsa has only eight detectives to work them all. 

If you're a victim, there are two things you can do to help.  Write down all your serial numbers and search Craig's List and e-Bay for your missing stuff.