Bellevue Baptist battles crime

The ball fields at Bellevue Baptist attract thousands of people this time of year. Stealing bases is common. Now, someone is stealing stuff from cars.

"It's a church!" says member Katherine Mason. "I mean, who breaks into cars at church?" she wonders.

According to police, a number of cars were broken into this past Monday night. It was during a ball-game, when the parking lot was packed. Member Katherine Mason admits, she's sometimes careless.

"Cause you feel so safe at church," says Mason. "You don't think anybody's going to break-in," she adds.

Memphis Police say the thieves did not break in by busting through the windows. They used a more tricky technique known as lock-popping, where they punch the lock and pop it out.

Electronics left in view, along with purses, wallets, and other valuable items are swiped in a matter of seconds.

"This is very unusual for us to have this kind of thing," says Jim Barnwell.

Barnwell is Director of Communications at Bellevue. He says there's been sporadic crime in the past, but nothing like this. As a result, the church plans to beef-up security patrols this summer, plus add more lighting in the parking lots.

"We've asked people to take all their valuables out of their car and lock them in the trunk and lock all their doors," says Barnwell.

They are simple measures. But the church hopes it's enough to keep crooks from preying on one of the mid-south's largest congregations.


to email Jason Miles.