A church tabernacle was left mangled and a gold-plated chalice was taken from Saint Timothy Church in the southeast Fort Worth area over the weekend, and church leaders don't understand the reason for the crime.
"I want to put up a sign that says you don't have to break through the window just walk through the door," said 71-year-old Bishop Keith Ackerman, who is tasked with the daily oversight of the church.
Ackerman said that on Saturday morning around 8:30 a.m., a member of the church arrived at the building located at 4201 Mitchell Blvd. to find one of the windows shattered with a hole big enough for a person to climb through.
"It looks like what the intruder did was got a box, put his foot in there and kicked it in and then was able to crawl inside," said Ackerman.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
Ackerman believes that once the suspect or suspects were inside the church, they might have headed to the altar first.
"The altar that is where we keep the blessed sacrament or what we call the tabernacle," said Ackerman. "Because we had it chained down he was unable to get it off so he knocked the top off."
He said the the room where the bishops, priests and deacons keep their vestments and sacred vessels was also ransacked by the suspect.
"He stole the chalice, which we usually use to celebrate mass," said Ackerman. "He also stole anything that looked silver to him that we keep the sacred vessels on."
But that was not enough for the suspect. Ackerman said cleaning supplies were thrown all around the room and some other cleaning supplies were taken. He said the suspect also took two vacuum cleaners from the church as well.
"This is at least the fourth time someone has broken in within the past year and taken cleaning supplies. But that happened at other properties we own," said Ackerman. "Because it takes so long for 911 or the police to get out here we usually don't bother to call."
Fort Worth Police Department spokesman Bradley Perez reported that the exact time and date of the burglary is unclear, but their incident report records show that it occurred sometime between 5 p.m. Thursday or as late as Sunday morning.
While the church has reported break-ins, as Ackerman mentioned, some of them may not have been reported, according to Perez.
"As far as the claims of the burglaries, communications is only finding two reports made. One on Oct. 25 and the one today," said Perez. "Other burglaries may not have been reported. NPOs (Neighborhood Police Officers) do provide walk-throughs if requested of businesses and/or residential homes to provide recommendations on ways to fortify to hopefully prevent further crimes from occurring."
Ackerman said they don't blame the police for the slow response.
"I recognized the police are doing everything they can to keep track of everything so I don't fault the police at all," he said.
He said the Oct. 25 incident involved a suspect breaking into one of the homes owned by the church and stealing all of the wiring. Unfortunately, the break-ins have become a common thing over the past six years since he arrived from Illinois to run the church.
"They'll strip us of $20 worth of copper then it'll cost us a couple thousand dollars to get everything repaired," said Ackerman. "Over the six years that I've been here we've probably lost over $300,000. My hopes of helping the homeless and other people are all dashed because we have to raise money to do it now."
Ackerman said the damages in this incident are estimated to cost around $3,000. But he would still rather see the suspect seek help from the church than sit behind bars. He mentioned the incident during Sunday morning service.
"We talked about what we look for as mercy and we prayed for the person who broke in. We're in that neighborhood because we're committed to being there," said Ackerman. "What I pointed out is that I'm more interested in their conversion than in their capture."
At this time the Fort Worth police have not released details on the suspect or suspects involved in the burglary.