Computers are the prime target in a rash of east Tulsa church burglaries

Tuesday, October 28th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

No honor among thieves as they target east Tulsa churches. Police say they've investigated six church break-ins in the past two weeks.

In four of the cases, the thieves stole only computers. The most recent burglary was earlier Tuesday at Eastland Assembly of God and as News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright tells us, this time, the crooks went too far.

The serenity of a place of worship on the outside, marred by the violence of everyday crime on the inside. Sometime overnight Monday, burglars broke into Eastland Assembly of God, kicked in at least 10 different doors and stole computers and they were picky, only taking the newer models.

Pastor Don Couch, "It's not just the equipment itself, its all the work. All our music was on the computer and it'll be a lot of work to replace the work there." Not even the pastor's office was immune. His computer is now missing with four others. But the biggest loss here is the computers used by the kids.

Eastland runs a school solely devoted to children with disabilities. Their door was also kicked in and all that remains of their computer is fingerprint powder left behind by detectives. School had to be cancelled in order not to upset these very sensitive little ones.

Pastor Don Couch: "For the kids, computer work is the part of their day they most look forward too, it's a reward to get computer time." For some, computers are their main way to communicate.

And the story gets even worse. One little girl, Kelly, is in the hospital with pneumonia, in the intensive care unit, her personal computer with all her work on it, was at the school and the thieves took it too. Pastor Don Couch: "We're angry on the one hand and on the other, we wonder what would make someone stoop so low to steal from a church."

While the church can patch up the doors and insurance will eventually replace the computers, these burglars did damage that won't ever be completely repaired.

To make matters worse, Eastland Assembly is not the first church hit. In fact, it's the sixth one in just two weeks. Four of them were targeted strictly for their computers, the other two had other items taken.

The pastor at Eastland talked to us in hopes of warning other churches. Now, his church is looking at hiring security guards to watch over a place thieves at least, no longer consider sacred.