By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Escambia County, Fla. authorities are reportedly on the lookout for one of at least two burglars who broke into a small Davisville church and its parsonage and stripped both buildings of their wiring.
The break-in left the rural church’s congregation of less than 10 members with the task of rewiring a building built more than six decades ago, when current building codes were not so strict.
“We were grandfathered in; now we’ll have to bring everything up to code,” said Leon Chavers, one of about 10 members of Davisville Community Church. “The folks that broke in got about $300 worth of metal and caused about $60,000 worth of damage to the church. Or that’s what it will cost to get everything back like it ought to be.”
The burglars, one of whom was actually caught on the property by Chavers apparently hit the buildings at least twice. They destroyed three air conditioning units, took all the wiring from the attics of the church and its parsonage, and cut the cords on every appliance or item inside the two buildings.
One of the exterior air conditioners was dragged across the churchyard but abandoned.
“One man can’t carry that by himself,” said Chavers. “It took three deputies to drag it back over to the church. That’s why I figure there was somebody else involved.”
The Davisville man said county lawmen came to investigate, but refused to arrest the main suspect, who was inside a house next to the church, despite evidence of the crimes.
“There were pieces of wire and the wrapping in the yard where they had been stripping the wire,” Chavers said. “He refused to come out while the two deputies were outside. They told me they could not go in unless the owner gave them permission. They said they tried to call her but couldn’t get her.”
Chavers, a former military policeman who patrolled San Francisco’s The Presidio for two years, said he offered to help take the perpetrator into custody.
“I offered to handcuff him and hold him, but they told me I couldn’t do that, that I’d be in trouble if I did,” he said, adding that he was told a warrant had been issued for the person who had been spotted in the yard of the church.
And, while he felt sure the criminal or criminals would one day face a higher judgment, Chavers said he would like to see some justice done while they were still on Earth.
“It’s just pitiful,” he said. “These folks could get a job and make more than they made stealing the wiring from God’s house, but they’ll pay for that one day. When they catch them and lock them up, the judge needs to never release them. They’re habitual criminals and they’ll never be nothing but a drain on society.”