You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

Police release photos of burglars suspected in at least 45 church break-ins

By Julie Baker


Authorities released these photos of suspects in at least 45 break-ins in Michigan and Ohio, including several in Washtenaw County.

Courtesy of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office

Police are saying the burglars in a string of church break-ins in southeast Michigan and northern Ohio are suspected in at least 45 incidents since August.

The Detroit Free Press reports that the break-ins were reported in Lenawee, Monroe, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Livingston and Genesee counties, as well as Fulton County, Ohio.

Police investigating the break-ins say they are likely connected. Authorities released security photos Friday of suspects believed to be involved. It's not clear from which incident or incidents the photos come.

Most of the churches targeted were in rural areas and didn't have security systems, and thieves got in by prying open windows and doors. They've ransacked offices, rifled through drawers and forced open safes. Officials said they've gotten away with cash, change or sometimes nothing, according to an Associated Press report.

In Washtenaw County, an undetermined amount of cash donations were stolen Nov. 12 from St. Vladimir Orthodox Church in Lima Township, previously reported. The Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office announced back in November that at least four break-ins on the west side of the county were believed to be linked. Those break-ins occurred in October at Salem Lutheran Church in Scio Township, St. John’s Lutheran Church in Bridgewater Township, Bethel United Church of Christ in Freedom Township and Clinton Assembly of God in Bridgewater Township.

Cash and a laptop were stolen from only one of the churches in the October incidents.

On Nov. 9 in Northfield Township, police reported that an unknown subject forced his or her way into a church in the 2000 block of Northfield Township Road and ransacked the interior looking to find valuables. The only item known to be missing was a collection jar at the front doors with about $40 in change.

A door was forced open at the Word of Deliverance Church,1005 Midway St., in Ypsilanti Township Nov. 26, but nothing was reported stolen. Police said an alarm apparently scared off the would-be intruder or intruders.

If you have information on any of these incidents or recognize the photos, please contact Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at 1-800-SPEAKUP or the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office confidential tip line number at 734-973-7711.



Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 9:14 p.m.

I attend a church in Milan. We had a breakin through a window and had several tv's stolen a few weeks ago. Don't know if it's the same folks or not. I guess a church isn't exempt from thievery. God never promised his believers a rose garden. Just someone to help them through the rough times. So I guess i can't be surprised that churches are targets.

DeviceTrack Dot Net

Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 1:42 a.m.

45 Church Break ins?!! That's ridiculous and repugnant. I own a company that developed a laptop anti-theft application. This software can trace a stolen laptop, give you access to all your files and take pics of whomever is using it so you can report the evidence to the Police and get your laptop back. If there are ANY churches that would like to get copy for free. Contact me through my site at and I'll send it to you. I Hope these guys are caught and soon.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 11:49 p.m.

Great pictures of these dudes. Hope they are caught soon.

Steven Murphy

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 11:47 p.m.

I hope these fools turn their lives around in a hurry. When I was a kid, I did some shoplifting and other horrible stuff and The Good Lord has been punishing me ever since. Living righteously is the only way to go.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 10:51 p.m.

Kind of strange they take so little. Most churches have expensive stuff (sound equipment, computers,. and musical instruments). I wonder if they thought that taking small amounts would not be reported?


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 10:54 p.m.

Meth is cheap.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 10:45 p.m.

Julie: Your Democrat readers believe in Man Made Climate Change not God! So they don't go to Church. Maybe one or two of the hand full of Republicans readers out there can tell you how Church members are reacting.

Susan Ursus

Sun, Dec 9, 2012 : 3:27 p.m.

Uh, Jesus was thoroughly loving, giving, and forgiving. He was the Prince of Peace, healed the sick, and fed the poor. He was tortured and crucified because he pointed out the failings of the religious establishment. Somehow I doubt he would have been a Republican.


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 10:54 p.m.


Julie Baker

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 8:34 p.m.

Are any readers members of these churches? Wondering how church members are reacting to the break-ins.

Ann English

Sun, Dec 9, 2012 : 12:59 a.m.

You sure there's a road named Northfield Township Road? I've heard of Northfield Church Road, which has stretches both east and west of US-23. Old St. Patrick's sits facing Northfield Church Road, but has a Whitmore Lake Road address. Whitmore Lake Road runs along one side of it.


Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 2:50 a.m.

I'm not.