Salt Lake police detectives have arrested three people they believe are responsible for more than a dozen burglaries of Salt Lake churches and bars over the past two months.
SWAT teams served search warrants at two Salt Lake homes Thursday and recovered televisions, video recorders, burglary tools, a "sizable amount" of marijuana and other items, said Salt Lake Police Lt. Jim Bell.During the past two months, burglars have hit a number of churches of various denominations on the city's east side. More recently, the thieves broke into churches and bars on the west side of Salt Lake City. The latest occurred Tuesday night or Wednesday morning at an LDS Church chapel at 710 S. 1000 West.
The suspects broke into the buildings by breaking windows and prying doors open with metal bars. Offices and libraries inside the churches were damaged. Most of the items taken were televisions and VCRs, Bell said.
Detectives received information about the suspects and served a warrant at 626 S. 1200 West Thursday afternoon. Two men, age 27 and 28, were arrested and booked into jail after stolen items were recovered. Both men were on parole and had records of earlier arrests for burglarizing churches and schools.
One of the men was arrested as he was leaving the house carrying a cardboard box. "We stopped him and inside the box he was carrying a stolen television, Bell said."
Detectives believe the men were responsible for 12 church burglaries and as many as five burglaries of bars.
The men were apparently stealing the items and trading them for drugs. Hours later, officers raided a home at 1568 S. 900 West. Officers recovered a large amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia as well as stolen property.
A third man, age 34, was arrested and booked into jail for investigation of distribution of a controlled substance and possession of stolen property. Officers believe he was trading marijuana for the stolen items.
Bell said burglary detectives Steven Cheever, David Jensen, Guy Yoshikawa and Sgt. Jack Mitchell had been working on the case for several weeks and were responsible for the arrests.