Four Suspects Arrested After A Tulsa Church Is Burglarized

Monday, July 31st 2006, 8:40 am
By: News On 6

A gang of thieves suspected of targeting Tulsa churches is under arrest, after a sharp-eyed neighbor caught them in the act. Two men and two teenage boys were arrested early Monday morning at the Revival Time Tabernacle on Admiral.

Tulsa Police say it's one in a string of recent church burglaries. News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin has more on this unholy heist.

Pastor’s granddaughter Jayme Luster: "The first night they came in and they broke in the door, they pried the doorjamb open." The burglars struck at night, but didn't get away with much the first time. Hearing such thefts were going around, church members feared the crooks would come back. When they did, a neighbor was ready for them. "He heard some commotion going on and he called the police and they got caught."

Just before 5 AM Monday, Tulsa Police arrested 27-year old Jared Manley and 20-year old Matthew Oeth, along with two juveniles.

Not only were they caught, loot in hand, Tulsa Police say they may be behind 7 other church break-ins, all since July 18th. This time a neighbor was staking out the place. Jayme Luster: "I applaud him, he has been a wonderful neighbor for many years and I am glad he had the common sense to do that for us, we don't live right here so we couldn't have done that ourselves."

Witnesses say when Tulsa Police sent in a dog, the thieves tried to jump out of a window. So who would steal from a church? Well, members at Revival Time Tabernacle say it's just like the sign says, 'There is no good excuse.' Jayme Luster: "When they come in and see the pictures either the children have made and drawn in Sunday school, or even the pictures of the people who attend the church, and then they want to come in and do that."

Pastor’s great granddaughter Hunter Luster: "It's kinda mean. Because it's other people's stuff, it's not just their stuff. And God doesn't like that."

All four suspects are facing eight counts of burglary and one count of knowingly concealing stolen property. Tulsa Police say they recovered about $10,000 worth of stolen goods.

Police say this is another case of a citizen fighting crime in a safe way, calling police and being a good witness.