Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Churches praise detectives

Three arrests may solve over 25 burglaries at worship places

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Churches throughout Cincinnati and Hamilton County are praising Cincinnati detectives for three weekend arrests police say solved more than 25 break-ins.

        Many of the churches hit were burglarized more than once, such as Liberty Missionary Baptist in Price Hill. Parishioners there last week found someone had tried to steal their van, making it inoperable, and then feasted on the church's ice cream, Rice Krispies and potato chips.

        “They must've had 30 plates set out,” said Chuck Schroer, the church's maintenance man. “They didn't eat much, they just left it all out.”

        Without a working van, Liberty Missionary was unable Sunday to do its usual roundup of children and parishioners who don't drive.

        Cincinnati police on Sunday arrested Troy Smith, 29, and Heather Fellezs, 22, both of Lower Price Hill; and Robert Day, 22, of Fairview Heights.

        Mr. Smith was charged with breaking and entering in 14 incidents, Mrs. Fellezs 13, and Mr. Day three. They were arrested about 1 p.m. Sunday as they left Roberts Paideia school on Grand Avenue in Price Hill.

        The spree of break-ins started Jan. 24, Lt. Don Smith said.

        They'd take “pretty much anything they could,” he said, and sell it to buy crack.

        Among the other churches and schools broken into: Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Luke's Evangelical, both in Westwood; Westside Baptist in Price Hill; and St. Jude in Bridgetown.

        Police got help in the last one, Lt. Smith said — the accused thieves had a flashlight with them, marked “Property of St. Jude.”

        After officers, responding to a burglar alarm, found the trio at Roberts Paideia, detectives worked past midnight piecing together other incidents that might be attributed to them.

        Now, other agencies from around the county and investigators from other Cincinnati districts are looking at the suspects for other crimes, Lt. Smith said, including the theft of 30 computers in Mount Adams.


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