MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A Memphis priest is working with police to track down the person who broke in and ransacked his sanctuary twice in a week, causing thousands of dollars in damage.
Security cameras captured video of the suspect and the evidence he left behind shows he went right for the offering plate.
Sky cop cameras mounted to the roof of a church. Not the typical fixture one expects as they walk in to worship. But nine cameras keep watch over St. Michael’s Catholic Church.
“We’ve kind of had sporadic crime and not only here and the outside of the church but kind of in the neighborhood,” said Father Ben Bradshaw.
The cameras were added after Father Ben Bradshaw joined the congregation about a year ago.
“Because I have worked in several higher crime parishes and churches that I want to do everything I can to stave that off. Sometimes just seeing the blue light helps,” he said.
But the blue lights didn't stop two break-ins this week.
Father Bradshaw suspects it was a repeat offender. Both times, the person got in by smashing the church’s windows.
“There was blood definitely on the inside of the church and on the other side of that wall where they broke in,” said Bradshaw.
A trail of blood inside the church lead to the offering boxes. Candles were knocked over and other items turned upside down.
The shattered glass and destroyed items were costly.
“I have had a long discussion with Jesus about that to help us out, right? So, we are still trying to figure that out. I am not really sure. I think it’s probably going to be somewhere in the $10,000 range,” he said.
Father Bradshaw has taken proactive steps to stop someone else from getting in by boarding up windows. His message to criminals: ask the church for help, don’t steal.
“We never know what’s going on in his life. We pray for him and that he finds peace in his life,” he said.
Father Bradshaw says the police got a good look at the suspect thanks to the sky cop camera. Investigators also have his DNA from the blood left behind.