By MARGIE WUEBKER
Two Greenville area men, who are suspects in a rash of breaking
and enterings at schools and churches in Mercer County, were
arrested Saturday night in Union City.
The Darke County Sheriff’s Office has not released the
identities of the adult males. It is believed they were taken
into custody at a residence.
Kip Wright, a detective with the Mercer County Sheriff’s
Office, said local authorities have been working with Darke
County detectives after learning there had been similar crimes
in that jurisdiction.
“We contacted law enforcement agencies in the area and
learned they had some breaking and enterings with a similar
M.O. (method of operation),” he said. “The similarities
were so strong we felt there had to be a connection.”
A break in the case apparently came Friday morning when an employee
at Marion Local Schools heard a suspicious noise in the building
that houses elementary and junior high school classes and went
to investigate. Two males, carrying what appeared to be a tool
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. The culprits allegedly tried to break into a safe
but their attempts were unsuccessful.
Wright said the break-in at Marion Local bore striking similarities
to a pair to incidents at two Montezuma locations the previous
day. 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 culprits apparently roamed throughout the church, pulling
out drawers and ripping cabinets doors from their hinges. Papers,
books and other items apparently were left as they fell. At
some point they pounded or pried on a tabernacle door and then
strewed communion hosts over the floor.
Similar damage was found at the school, where glass was broken
in exterior as well as interior doors. Drawers and cabinets
also were ripped open with contents strewn haphazardly across
Agents from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification
were called in to assist with processing evidence at both scenes,
according to Wright.
Deputies had been working closely with the Coldwater Police
Department, which is investigating break-ins Oct. 10 or 11 at
Coldwater United Methodist Church and Coldwater Exempted Village
Officials at the churches and schools continue to make inventories
in hopes of compiling a list of missing items.
Wright believes the sharing of information between departments
led to the arrests. He and fellow detective Pat Elking hope
to interview the suspects Tuesday at the Darke County Jail.