Sheriff’s department investigating vandalism at three churches

Three Brown County churches have been burglarized or vandalized since June 22, and local police believe the incidents might be related to another case in Bartholomew County over the weekend.

Vandals set several fires in the 100-year-old Ohio Chapel United Methodist Church, according to The Republic. The fires burned out before they consumed the building, but the church still sustained damage.

“We think they might be all a related,” Brown County Sheriff Scott Southerland said. “We’re still trying to verify that.”

The first vandalism incident in Brown County occurred at Way of Holiness Tabernacle on Hurdle Road late in the evening June 21.

St. Agnes Catholic Church on McLary Road reported a burglary and vandalism on July 6. The crime is believed to have occurred the evening of July 5 or early in the morning July 6, according to the Brown County Sheriff’s Department.

On July 7, deputies responded to the Pike’s Peak Church of Christ on Bellsville Pike for a third report of burglary and vandalism. Officers believe the crime occurred between 2 p.m. July 6 and 10 a.m. July 7.

Southerland said details about what kind of vandalism was done and what was stolen will not be released to the public.

“I’d rather not get into details, because there are some things that if somebody was to provide us information down the road, if they can tell us things that have not been in the media, that would help verify their credibility,” he said.

The sheriff’s department does not have any suspects at this time, Southerland said.

He said the public can help by reporting anything suspicious at local churches.

“If they see somebody at a church after hours, a vehicle, call us. If they live close to a church where they can see it, keep a closer eye on it. If they see anybody messing in a church, lights on in a church, anything like that, call us so we can go check it out,” he said.

The church vandalism cases are on the top of the department’s priority list, Southerland said.

Anyone who has information regarding these cases or who saw anything that appeared suspicious in those areas should contact the Brown County Sheriff’s Office dispatch at 812-988-6655. To remain anonymous, call the tip line at 812-988-6620.
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Suzannah Couch grew up in Brown County, reading the Brown County Democrat. A 2013 Franklin College graduate, she covers business, cops/courts, education and arts/entertainment.