By MARGIE WUEBKER
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
Deputies called to the scene found several offices had been
entered and ransacked, with papers and other items tossed about
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.
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
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.