MARY ESTHER — Two recent overnight break-ins at Saints Markella and Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church have left members feeling violated, outraged and at a loss for an explanation.
The first burglary in mid-August was “psychologically pretty harmful,” said Parish Council President Tim Boolos. Nothing was taken, but a hole was cut in the roof of the church hall.
Two weeks later, someone “strong-armed” the door and swiped a computer.
“We’re just bewildered and wonder why we’re targeted, but obviously we were targeted. We had two break-ins,” Boolos said.
The first break-in was discovered Aug. 15. A parish pastor walked into the church hall about 7 a.m. to get ready for Sunday services and found a crowbar, roofing, insulation and plasterboard on the floor, according to an Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office report.
“They tore the shingles off and took off the plywood with a crowbar,” Boolos said.
Scuff marks on the interior wall indicated someone began to drop down into the room, but stopped short of triggering the alarm system’s motion detectors, the report said. Damage was estimated at $2,000.
About 9:45 a.m. Aug. 28, a church member approached the hall and saw light coming through the cracks of the doors, according to a Sheriff’s Office report. Power at the church went out the previous day after construction equipment pulled down utility lines. The alarm was not active that night.
The burglar or burglars forced open an outside door and then kicked in the door to the secretary’s office. They stole two monitors and a computer which contained bulletins, records and church members’ names and contact information, Boolos said.
Damage was estimated at $600.
The incidents left Boolos to wonder why someone would go to the trouble of damaging a church and making off with so little.
“We don’t keep money here,” Boolos said. “It wasn’t even a nice computer.”
The Sheriff’s Office said there were no known suspects. The second case was “inactivated” pending more information.
Boolos said he wanted to warn other churches.
“We don’t know if we were the only ones targeted or if they just had a grudge against us,” Boolos said.