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Tigard Covenant Church burglar escapes detection


Police seek man who stole donations, checks from needy

Tigard Police are searching for a man who reportedly broke into a local church Saturday night and stole money intended for needy children in Africa.

The suspect reportedly hid inside Tigard Covenant Church, 11321 S.W. Naeve St., all night to evade police.

According to Jim Wolf, a spokesman for the Tigard Police Department, the suspect fled the scene with a donation jar and other items.

The burglar reportedly entered the building after breaking a window in the pastor’s office. The suspect climbed through the opening and trashed the office.

The thief also broke into the church’s business office and reportedly pried open file cabinets, opened envelopes and stole whatever cash or checks he could find.

The church’s Sunday school students were raising money for starving children in the Congo and saving those donations in a jar, said Kendra Hand, the church’s bookkeeper and evangelism director.

It’s unknown how much money the thief stole, but the donation jar was about two-thirds full with bills and coins, Hand said.

“He was in here for quite a while,” Hand said. “We have a few checks that have gone missing.”

While inside the building, the thief tripped a silent alarm, alerting police and church officials to the burglary.

“There were quite a number of police cars,” said Hand, who arrived at the church at about 9:30 p.m. “They had the building surrounded.”

Upon arrival, officers discovered the suspect and chased him until the man disappeared inside the building.

A police K-9 team was called in to search the building, but the bandit was not located, Wolf said.

According to Hand, the search dog did alert his handler near an entry into the church’s attic, but the entryway was too high for anyone to climb inside.

“It did not appear to be accessible,” Wolf said.

Police continued their investigation until about 1 a.m. on Sunday, he added.

Hand said the suspect likely hid in the attic all night, emerging Sunday morning when worshippers began to set up for services.

“As soon as they turned off the alarm, they heard this thump — like someone dropping down — then he ran out the door,” Hand said.

A worship leader chased the man while another called 911. The church leader was unable to catch him.

Police searched the area with another K-9 team. The suspect escaped detection.

Wolf said it’s unclear whether or not the thief hid inside the church all night or returned the next morning.

“We don’t know that for sure,” Wolf said. “How and where he was able to conceal himself is not known.”

The church will have to replace doors, windows and locks as well as purchase new filing cabinets.

“It’s just terrible,” Hand said.

The suspect was described as a white man in his 20s, wearing a brown jacket with yellow stripes.

The investigation continues, Wolf said. Anyone with information about the robbery or the suspect is asked to call Tigard Police at 503-639-6168.