Suspect Faces 15 Charges In Church Burglaries

By Frances Kuo

(LOUISVILLE, June 3rd, 2004, 4 p.m.) -- A Louisville man faces 15 charges in connection with a string of church burglaries during the past couple of months. Police arrested the suspect Wednesday, and as WAVE 3's Frances Kuo reports, the development has many church congregations breathing a sigh of relief.

For awhile, the security alarm at Cloverleaf Baptist Church on Manslick Road went off every week -- even though no one had broken in. But one Monday morning a couple of weeks ago, it was no false alarm.

Pastor Geoffrey Lacefield says the burglar "broke out a window and then jimmied some office doors" during the break-in.

Lacefield says they were surprised by the break-in and even more surprised that nothing was taken. There was no money in the church at the time, but there was some valuable stereo equipment.

About a dozen other churches weren't as lucky. Over the past two months, some have lost hundreds of dollars in cash and others have had equipment stolen.

A break came this past Wednesday when police stopped a car driven by 37-year-old Robert Spurgeon and found several stolen items.

According to police records, Spurgeon admitted to stealing from several churches. Pastor Rodney Harris with First Cumberland Presbyterian says Spurgeon's arrest brings "some relief -- we're thankful he was caught. That way, we don't have to always be checking the doors, wondering if there's anyone's inside the building when we arrive for work."

First Cumberland Presbyterian Church is about two blocks from Cloverleaf Baptist. That church was hit twice, and money was stolen from the file cabinets in the office.

Now Pastor Harris says the church has learned a hard lesson: they'll no longer keep cash on the premises.

Online Reporter: Frances Kuo

Online Producer: Michael Dever