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The Daily



10-10-03: Officials probe local break-ins


The Mercer County Sheriff’s Office may have a break in the case involving a rash of break-ins at area schools and churches.
An employee at Marion Local Schools heard a suspicious noise in the building that houses elementary and junior high school classes early this morning and went to investigate.
Two males, carrying what appeared to be a bag and a pry bar, were spotted shortly before 5:30 a.m. They quickly fled the premises.
Deputies called to the scene found several offices had been entered and ransacked, with papers and other items tossed about the rooms.
Detective Kip Wright told The Daily Standard this morning the latest incident bears striking similarities to a pair of Montezuma break-ins reported Thursday morning.
Authorities believe more than one suspect entered Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, 6701 Ohio 219, and Franklin Elementary School, 6731 Ohio 219, between 10 p.m. Wednesday and 7 a.m. Thursday.
The Rev. James Dugal, local pastor, called 911 at 7:17 a.m. to report someone had broken into the church overnight. He added some items appeared to be missing while “a lot” of others had been destroyed.
A school employee alerted authorities to a similar situation at the building that currently houses fifth- and sixth-grade classes from the Coldwater Exempted Village Schools.
The culprits apparently roamed throughout the church, pulling out drawers and ripping cabinet doors from their hinges. Papers, books and other items apparently were left as they fell.
The sanctuary escaped significant damage, according to Wright, who was called to assist with the investigation.
“The damage at the school building was pretty well equal to what we found at the church,” he said. “The subjects left behind quite a mess.”
They apparently broke glass in entry doors as well as interior doors. Drawers and cabinets were opened with contents strewn across the floor.
Wright declined to comment on how and where entry was gained to both buildings. Staff at both locations are trying to inventory contents in hopes of determining what is missing. This represents a considerable challenge at the school because it involves equipment as well as the belongings of staff and students.
Deputies continue to work closely with the Coldwater Police Department, which is investigating similar break-ins late Friday night or early Saturday morning at Coldwater United Methodist Church and Coldwater Exempted Village Schools.
Perpetrators apparently went through the Coldwater elementary and high school buildings collecting everything from portable radios and cell phones to gym bags and french vanilla shower gel. They apparently were spooked at some point and left the scene. Some items remained inside while others had been stacked on the pavement outside.
The church also had been ransacked. It appeared the culprits intended to remove a computer scanner, DVD player, a battery charger and DVD equipment but left the items behind.
Investigators plan to contact area law enforcement agencies today to check whether similar break-ins have occurred in their jurisdictions.
Anyone spotting suspicious activity around the Montezuma and Maria Stein buildings should call the sheriff’s office at (419) 586-7724. Information regarding the Coldwater break-ins should be directed to the police at (419) 678-2356.


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
All content copyright 2003
The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822