CLEVELAND (WJW) – Crime Stoppers of Cuyahoga County is now offering a reward to help find the vandals that seriously ransacked a local church.
The suspects tore down ceilings, damaged bathrooms and stole electronics during a destructive rampage.
“This air conditioning unit that we were about to hook up for the hallway, they gutted it, took all the stuff out of there,” Pastor Grady Stevenson said.
Pastor Stevenson pointed out the major damage to detectives inside Damascus Road Ministries Church on Harvard Avenue in Cleveland late Tuesday afternoon.
“They were looking for copper, so they started pulling down the ceiling tiles,” he told detectives.
The pastor said the church removed the copper pipes when they first renovated the building.
Last Friday, church leaders discovered that someone had broken into the house of worship and ransacked nearly every room. Due to COVID-19, the church was temporarily not being used for regular meetings or services.
“They tore up sinks and took flush valves off of commodes. They took faucets off of sinks, they pulled down ceiling,” said Stevenson.
He said about a week earlier, strong storms knocked down a tree in front of the church. That same storm knocked out the church’s Wi-Fi, so the security alarm and cameras never alerted them to the intruders.
“They took four TVs, they took our sound system from both our sanctuary and also our fellowship hall, so they took two sound systems. They emptied out three furnaces and they gutted two air conditioning units,” said Stevenson.
“The part that hurt me the most is… For my youth ministry, I bought these (vending) machines and put them in here,” the pastor told detectives.
Pastor Stevenson said he and his congregation remodeled this building themselves, turning it into a church to help the surrounding community.
“We put our blood, sweat and tears in this building. This was actually a roofing factory when we got the building. It wasn’t in this shape. We did this work ourselves,” he said.
Despite all the damage done to his church, Pastor Stevenson said this inspires him to do more to help his community.
“It only encouraged me to do the ministry just a little bit harder because it tells me that there’s a great need over in this area for ministry. People need help, and if they can’t get it from the church, then where can they get it from?” said Stevenson.
The cost of the damage is not yet known.
Crime Stoppers of Cuyahoga County is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information that leads to the identity, location and prosecution of the person or persons involved in the break-in.
Anyone with information can submit a tip to www.25crime.com or call 216-25CRIME.
Tipsters can remain anonymous.