Burglars ransack Miami-Dade church

Sunday services planned despite robbery

MIAMI - A northwest Miami-Dade church plans to go ahead with Sunday services as planned, despite a robbery on Friday morning. Thieves cut phone lines and cut off the power at the church so they could ransack the building undetected.

The burglars targeted New Hope Missionary Baptist Church at 103rd Street and Northwest 18th Avenue.

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"It breaks my heart. It tears my heart out," said New Hope Co-Pastor Sharlene Holts.

"You don't steal from the church of God," said New Hope Bishop Randall Holts.

The pastors were shocked when they discovered the theft had occurred, despite the elaborate security system. They said the burglars cut the phone lines and pulled down the breakers.

"We just put it in, the alarm equipment. This is a brand-new alarm system. It cost us roughly $40,000 to install it," Randall Holts said.

The intruders stole several flat-screen televisions, camera equipment and keys to the church vans, but the damage they did looking for things to steal could add up to more than $50,000.

"They kicked the door in and tore the door frame up. They basically ransacked his office. We believe they were looking for money, because we see his petty cash drawer, which nothing was in," said office manager Shontel Rich.

Miami-Dade police did not lift any fingerprints, but before the crooks cut the power and phone lines at about 2 a.m., surveillance cameras did get a few images. The bishop believes there were three men wearing hoods and gloves.

When the bishop's wife walked into her office, she was surprised to find that the thieves had stolen some expensive Bibles from a shelf. She was at first disgusted, and then after she thought about it, she said, "Well, good. I hope they read them."

But, Randall Holts and his staff members said Sunday services will go on as planned because there are some things burglars can't steal.

"They did not steal our spirit. That's the one good thing I can say," Rich said.

"We are going to get through this because we have faith in God," Sharlene Holts said.

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