Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Thieves steal gifts from Taylor Mill church

Presents meant for needy families

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        TAYLOR MILL — Thieves broke into Hilltop Church of Christ Saturday night and stole most of the gifts that congregation members had planned to give to needy families at Christmas.

        It was a stark reminder that 'tis the season for church and residential burglaries, Police Sgt. Scott O'Brien said.

        “It's not unusual. (Burglars) know stuff is lying around,” he said.

        Sgt. O'Brien advises that churches should secure their ground-level windows and hide any petty cash to prevent similar occurrences.

        Police are still investigating the Saturday night burglary. About $100 was taken from offices and about 30 of the 40 gifts under a tree were unwrapped and stolen. Most likely, more than one person looted the church at 5300 Taylor Mill Road, Sgt. O'Brien said.

Found out Sunday
               “It would have taken a lengthy time to do this,” he said.

        According to police, a member of the church arrived to turn on the heat for the Sunday morning service about 7:30 a.m. and discovered the break-in.

        Burglars had entered a lower-level window, ransack ed church offices and opened all of the gifts under the tree.

        Church members are up set because they think the burglars were needy, too. They took the presents for adults and older children, which included clothing and board games. They also stole the youth minister's acoustic guitar — a gift he received from his father last Christmas.

        But gifts for young children — such as stuffed animals and paint sets remained.

"Breaks my heart'

               “They were very selective,” said church member Patty Allen. “It just breaks my heart because we're trying to give these people a good Christmas. It just breaks my heart that some one would take this away from somebody who needed it.” The church provides Christmas gifts for needy families every year. Members would have gladly helped out an additional family, she said, especially if it meant saving someone from a life of crime.

        Taylor Mill police are patrolling residential streets because of a string of residential burglaries last year at Christmas time, Sgt. O'Brien said. They also are being advised to keep a close eye on churches.

        Anyone with information should call the Taylor Mill Police Department, (859) 581-1192.


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