Crime

Thieves hit cars at Lancaster churches while victims were inside praying, police say

.Police in Lancaster County are investigating thefts at four churches that happened Sunday while parishioners were inside at services.

Thieves stole at least two guns, tools, a cellphone, money and credit cards.

The crimes happened during services at New Hope Baptist Church, Crestview Baptist Church, Camp Creek United Methodist Church, and Bethel Baptist Church. Police said the thefts are related and at least two people acted together, said Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile.

“One of the last places we should expect our possessions to be taken is at church while we are worshipping,” Faile said.

Deputies started to receive calls about stolen goods around noon Sunday when a parishioner at New Hope Baptist came out of the morning service to find his truck and trailer gone, said sheriff’s office spokesperson Doug Barfield.

Witnesses saw the truck leaving but assumed the owner was driving the vehicle, Barfield said.

The truck and trailer were later found in nearby woods. A handgun, tools and stereo were stolen, according to a police report.

A few minutes after the first church thefts, a woman at Crestview Baptist came out of service to find her cellphone was stolen from her car after someone punched a hole in the driver door, police said.

Around 1:30 p.m., a person who attends Camp Creek Methodist flagged down a sheriff’s deputy in Indian Land to report someone stole $20 from his unlocked car parked at the church.

At 2 p.m., a fourth person told deputies that when he got home from services at Bethel Baptist, a handgun, wallet, credit cards and other items had been stolen while he was at church.

The bank cards were used at a Kershaw Dollar General store that day after the theft, Barfield said.

Police have video surveillance from the store and one of the churches but have not yet made any arrests.

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