Thieves Target Parishioners On Christmas Eve


Smashed windows, shattered glass, and a gift for a little girl stolen. It all happened to families' vehicles while they attended church on Christmas Eve.

It happened at the International United Methodist Church on Bethel Road in North Columbus

Christmas eve, there were four services. Thieves targeted parishioners who attended the first service.

"There's no day quite like Christmas eve in the life of the church," said Bethel International United Methodist Church Pastor Mike Pratt.

It's a day when hundreds gathered to celebrate one of the most religious moments of the year. It's also a day when someone, with less than good intentions, took advantage of the crowd.

The pastor says it was "really disconcerting considering that we are mindful of security."  

Pastor Mike Pratt says two vehicles were broken into that night. "In one of the SUV's, there was a little gift that had been sent to a family from overseas 34 and the other family had a girl, not quite 3 years old, so she was upset."

One family says their car was in the place where they normally park, which was far enough away from the church, no one inside heard it happen.

Church member Diane Smith says the pastor told the congregation all about it, at the 7 o'clock candle light service.

"It's just kind of sad people have to worry about that no matter where they go," says Smith.

"I spoke of break-ins at our next service. Not to scare people, but just to remind them, that's why we have Christmas," said the pastor. "If everything was good, we would have no need for a savior, and it just reminds me that we live in a troubled world, and that's why Christmas needs to come

Pastor Mike Pratt says another church along Bethel road was also a target of car break-ins on Christmas Eve.

He is warning people that no matter where you are, it's important to always lock your valuables up.

Columbus police are aware of the crimes. No word yet on the identity of the thieves.