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Burglars Hit More Than 40 Churches Since August

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HOWELL (WWJ/AP) - Authorities say burglars have broken into more than 40 churches in mostly rural areas of Michigan and Ohio since August.

Police say the break-ins have been reported in Michigan’s Lenawee, Monroe, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Livingston and Genesee counties, as well as Fulton County, Ohio, near the states’ border.

Police believe the burglaries are connected and may have been committed by the same thieves.

Most of the churches targeted didn’t have security systems, and thieves got in by prying open windows and doors. They’ve ransacked offices, rifled through drawers and forced open safes.

Officials say the thieves usually get away with cash and change, but have also taken musical instruments and video equipment. In several instances, the crooks walked away with nothing.

No arrests have been made, but two men were captured on a surveillance camera while burglarizing a Genesee County church in October. Pastor James Rolf told the Detroit Free Press that the crooks stole three Walmart gift cards. The church, however, knew the card numbers and Walmart was able to track down the stolen cards, which were used at a store in Canton to purchase a car stereo and speakers, police said. The suspects have not yet been identified.

Some churches have beefed up security as a result of the burglaries, installing alarm systems and surveillance cameras, while others say they will be praying for the suspects.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP. You can also submit a tip online at www.1800speakup.org, or text “CSM” and your tip to CRIMES (274637).

TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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