String of burglaries cost Panola County churches thousands of dollars in lost equipment

String of burglaries cost Panola County churches thousands of dollars in lost equipment

PANOLA COUNTY, Miss. (WMC) - Several Mid-South churches are out thousands of dollars in equipment after a string of burglaries that authorities say may have been coordinated.

Pastors from several Panola County churches want to know who is breaking in, taking off with thousands of dollars worth of items, including musical equipment, full-size stoves and heaters and ransacking offices.

One pastor said it appeared the thieves knew what they were doing.

“Stove was right there,” said Pastor Darin Ellis, pointing out what was stolen from New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Panola County.

His church is one of four recently burglarized.

Ellis was at his mother’s church that was also hit by burglars when he found out.

“I got a phone call that our church had gotten broken into on the same day and I came over here,” said Ellis.

He found mic stands with no microphones, the entire sound system gone, a keyboard, a full-size stove and heaters gone.

The office had been ransacked, papers thrown around and the safe broken into.

Fortunately, the money had already been deposited.

“They had actually turned the gas off of the heaters, so it was really professional,” said Ellis.

Investigators say the churches hit were all small, predominantly Black churches.

Panola County Det. Chantryce Morris says it appears the churches were targeted.

“The churches they are hitting, it’s like three or four other churches on the same road, they bypass those and hit the small little churches,” said Morris.

He said the crooks even took off with three crosses.

Morris says it is all very frustrating.

“You don’t know what churches are going to get hit next,” said Morris.

Pastor Ellis wants the thieves caught.

“We’ll let the law take care of that and we will stay in prayer for them,” said Ellis.

None of the churches had surveillance cameras, something they may now get. But investigators say all of the churches had insurance.

Panola County investigators need the public’s help to catch the crooks. If you know anything call law enforcement in Panola County.

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