News 12 at First at Five / Friday, Aug. 2, 2013
AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- The deadbolt is broken, the door is splintered, and Pastor Gary Hanna of Redd's Branch Baptist Church is left with a big mess.
"I never in my lifetime thought it would happen here, but here we are!" Pastor Hanna says. "We had a group of teenagers going to Carowinds this morning, and they got here about 7 o'clock and noticed that the door was open at the church."
Once inside, they found an office ransacked. Multiple laptops were missing in the fellowship hall, and yards away, the sanctuary's sound system was swiped as well.
"They had broken into our safe and into our financial records and things like that,” he says.
Deputies and investigators were there Friday morning. Pastor Hanna says they dusted for prints where the suspect or suspects smashed a window and entered the church but had no luck. There was no surveillance video either.
"Basically, a person that does this is a broken person, and they need our help, and we're not angry with who did this, matter of fact, if they'd come to us, we'd be glad to try to help them and share with them the love of Christ," says Hanna.
But Hanna says holy places are becoming common targets.
"Tuesday, I had lunch with one of our area pastors, and we were discussing this very issue, and he was talking about security and things that they were doing at their church now," he says.
He is now focusing on cleaning up, changing locks, and making things a bit more secure. It's something he never thought he'd have to do.
"It hurts because that's money that we could be using to help our community with,” Hanna says.
Other Nearby Businesses & Homes Hit
Just a short distance away on Redd’s Branch Road, another home was burglarized. Another home reported a larceny on nearby Wrights Mill Road.
Also nearby, on Wire Road, Georgia-Carolina Bail Bonds had a trailer stolen from their front lot around 1:25 AM on Friday.
Owner Ed Wilson is offering a $1,000 cash reward for information leading to the arrest of the individuals he says stole the trailer. Video surveillance 2 black males and a white male driving a white newer model truck with extended cab. Wilson says any tipster will remain confidential.
Wilson speculates that the same suspects may be responsible for some of the other break-ins in the area.
Other Parts of Aiken Co. Affected
But the overnight burglaries weren’t contained to just the Wire Road area. According to the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, these other locations and businesses were burglarized:
- MAE Video in North Augusta
- A home on Parker Drive in North Augusta
- A shed at a home on Wagener Rd. in Aiken
- A home on Sunshine Circle in Aiken
- A home on Turabi Lane near Old Aiken Road
Another Church Struck Too
Reverend Jack Scott of the Southside Baptist Church in Gloverville also reports that his church was burglarized and ransacked sometime overnight.
He says the suspects got away with microphones and left his office in a mess. He says the suspects must have been startled, because they left stacks of speakers near the door of the church.
Another Break-In Busted by Deputies
The Aiken County Sheriff’s Office did arrest two men who have now been charged with Burglary 2nd Degree.
At 1:58 AM, deputies allegedly caught two men, Jerome Cooper and Dashon Canady, in the act of breaking into The Helm, a restaurant in Clearwater.
“Information that was obtained during the investigation lead investigators to believe that the two suspects were attempted to break into the business,” a Sheriff’s Office news release reads.