During the past two weeks, three more LaSalle Parish churches have been burglarized, increasing the number of churches in LaSalle to seven since July 17 when the first church burglary was reported.
The latest, Nolley Memorial Methodist Church in Jena, was burglarized Tuesday night, August 9, where the burglar only took a small amount of coins from inside the church.
According to LaSalle Parish Sheriff Detective Richard Smith, the three-parish joint investigation team continues to work the church burglary case, including many leads that have been received.
“We really can’t disclose a lot of information right now but we are working this from every possible angle,” he said. “We just don’t want to put too much information out there right now that might jeopardize our investigation.”
On Tuesday night, August 2, two other LaSalle Parish churches fell victim to the burglars, Temple Baptist Church in Jena and Trinity Baptist Church located just east of Jena off U.S. Hwy. 84. Nothing was reported missing from either of those churches.
During the last two weeks of July, four churches were hit in LaSalle, Olla Apostolic Pentecostal Church in Olla, Jena First Baptist Church in Jena, Shady Grove Pentecostal Church near Nebo, and Sanctuary Family Worship Center in Jena. Reports were that of those churches, only First Baptist in Jena reported a television being taken.
In addition to LaSalle Parish, Catahoula Parish has had some four churches burglarized in July along with five churches in Avoyelles Parish. All three sheriff’s departments are working together in a joint investigation to solve the crime spree.
“Like Richard said, we really can’t comment on our efforts that are being made right now but I can assure the public that we are doing everything we can to apprehend these people responsible,” LaSalle Sheriff Scott Franklin said. “I remind everyone to please report any suspicious activity around our parish churches, especially at night.”
Residents can call 911 if they suspect something suspicious during the night or call Detective Richard Smith at the LaSalle Parish Sheriff’s Department at (318) 992-2151 if anyone has any information related to these burglaries. CrimeStoppers is also offering a reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of persons involved in this crime.
Burglarizing a church is a felony in Louisiana where a person convicted of such crime could face up to 12 years in prison with hard labor and at least two years of that sentence must be served without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. It also carries a fine of up to $2,000.