Oak Forest Baptist Church burglarized again; officials believe by same suspect who's struck before

August 6, 2013 4:25:00 PM PDT
A house of worship was ransacked by a thief, and church leaders think he's been there before.

The Oak Forest Baptist Church has been in the community for several decades. Over the last several years though, the church feels it's become the target of thieves and at least one keeps returning.

Now they hope surveillance video will help someone recognize him.

Several broken door jambs and a ransacked office is what Oak Forest Baptist Church secretary Victoria Grable arrived to Tuesday morning.

"Everything was torn up, thrown all over the desk, files all through the top drawer. So he ransacked through here, took tuition payments yesterday, took enrollment payments," Grable said.

When they checked the surveillance cameras, not only did they spot their burglar, but also noticed he looked strangely similar to a thief caught on camera robbing the church two months ago, but in a different shirt.

"He was wearing the same hat and same shoes as the last robbery. So maybe that's something that he normally wears and hopefully someone will see it and recognize him," Grable said.

HPD detectives processed the scene in search of clues. Pastor Richard Walters says not only does the crook look familiar on tape, he broke in the same way as last time.

"According to first time it happened, they think they got a slim jim and it moves the locks and allows it to slide open," Walters said.

A pillar in the Oak Forest community, Oak Forest Baptist Church has been here since the 1950s. Over the last five years, though, it's been robbed more than half a dozen times.

"Seven or eight times in the last five years," Walters said. "We have lost musical equipment. We have lost a sound system. We have lost money. We have learned, don't store it here, deposit it when we get it."

They hope this time around someone recognizes the suspect on camera and gives police a new lead.

"It's just frustrating. It's the second time it's happened. And for us to watch the video and it looks like it's the exact same person, we just feel taken advantage of," Grable said.

Anyone with information about the identity of the suspect is asked to contact Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-TIPS (8477).

Crime Stoppers will pay up to $5,000 for any information called in to the 713-222-TIPS (8477) or submitted online at www.crime-stoppers.org that leads to the filing of felony charges or arrest of the suspect in this case. Tips can also be sent by text message. Text TIP610 plus your tip to CRIMES (274637). All tipsters remain anonymous.

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