Harrison Twp. church broken into, vandalized twice in same week

A Harrison Twp. church that aims to host recovery meetings and worship services was broken into twice in one week with multiple items damaged.

Pastor Joel Burton said Simple Street has been in the Dayton area for a few years, but the church purchased its first property at 2520 Arthur Ave. in May with people working since June to get the building ready to serve the community.

Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputies responded July 15 to Simple Street after Burton reported the first break in.

A deputy wrote in an incident report that the front glass doors were destroyed and inside was “ransacked and spray painted. Even the tile flooring was riddled with hole [sic] and dents from an unknown blunt object like a hammer.”

Screens were removed from the windows and damaged, and the tires on the baptismal trailer were slashed, according to the report.

A second report was filed on July 19 for another break in.

Among the damaged items were an Apple computer with a broken screen, multiple electronics and televisions, a bathroom vanity, two toilets and a door with cut marks believed to be caused by an ax or hatchet, according to the report.

During both incidents, Burton identified a possible suspect. Following the second incident, Burton told a deputy the damage was similar to a previous incident at Hopeland Church in Vandalia earlier this year, according to the incident report.

Burton told the Dayton Daily News that Simple Street is familiar with the suspect and that the suspect previously came to Simple Street and made threats. A deputy in the July 15 incident report advised Burton to file a protection order against the suspect.

The suspect is not in custody and charges have not been filed.

Burton said he’s waiting for the insurance estimate. The church also is raising money to upgrade security.

A recovery group had its first meeting at the church a few days before the first break in. Burton said the church is pausing community events until the new security system is ready.

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