HILLSBORO, Ala. (WHNT) — Members at New Antioch Church of Christ are speaking out after the county sheriff’s office says vandals broke in sometime last week, causing considerable damage, although they reportedly did not take anything of high value.
More than a day after cleanup efforts began, the reason the building’s back portion was broken into still has longtime members puzzled.
“I actually thought maybe that was the worst part ’til I got inside and (saw) everything else,” Lawrence County Commissioner Kyle Pankey said. Pankey is also an elder at the church.
Pankey said the only items stolen were candy meant to be donated to soldiers overseas.
“This is sheer vandalism,” Pankey said. “There’s stuff they could’ve taken but they didn’t. And as far as just breaking the TVs and turning the bookcases over, still, we’re blessed in a way. It could have been a whole lot worse.”
Pankey says security cameras spotted two individuals, but their identities are still unknown and descriptions haven’t yet been released.
Lawrence County Sheriff Max Sanders hopes the public will help investigators find some answers.
“This is unusual and I hope it’s just a single incident and not a pattern,” Sanders said. “There’s two or three things that ought to be off-limits: a church (and) a cemetery. Of course, nobody wants to get broken into or vandalized. I kind of look at it a little different being a church.”
Authorities still need to assess all the destruction, but deacons with the church said the total costs could reach $30,000.
“I feel confident that someone is going to be apprehended on this,” Pankey said. “We’ve also got several calls from neighbors. And we have got so many calls from different churches, all kinds of different denominations and whatever offering to help.”
The congregation said it is not accepting defeat to whoever is responsible though, as it held Sunday’s sermon in its main auditorium without much issue.
“I think [we’re] already rebounding,” minister Bill Becker said. “I think you could see that this morning. You know, adversity usually brings out the best in people that are looking for that opportunity and I think you’ll see that. You’ll see it in this community.”
“That’s one thing that this county is known for,” Pankey added. “It’s if something happens – a tornado, if it’s a fire, if it’s a flood – everybody pulls together.”
Authorities said when those responsible are found they’ll likely face charges including burglary and criminal mischief.
If you have any information that could help investigators you’re urged to call deputies at 256-974-9291.