WAUKEGAN, Ill. (WLS) --Police are looking for suspects in at least four church burglaries in north suburban Waukegan over the last week. The suspects not only took valuable items, they also caused a lot of property damage.
Rev. Dr. James Olson was hoping for a quiet week following Easter Sunday service at St. John's United Church of Christ.
"My office was the worst trashed. They just opened drawers and dumped drawers out," Rev. Olson said.
He has been overseeing a massive cleanup after burglars broke in to his church and vandalized it. The damage was discovered Monday evening.
"I feel bad for my congregation. Like I said, they're a very small group of people. I have 60 members and we do struggle a little bit," Rev. Olson said.
St. John's United Church of Christ on McAree Road was one of four Waukegan churches burglarized and vandalized within the past week.
Police believe they are all connected, with burglars forcing entry, emptying fire extinguishers and stealing expensive sound equipment and metal items.
The pastor at Rehoboth Church of God and Christ, where the pastor there said the crime caused more than $15,000 worth of damage.
"Sound equipment, keyboards, bass guitars, mixers, televisions," Rev. Timothy Jones said.
Waukegan police are investigating each case and say churches are soft targets.
"They generally don't have a lot of security systems. They're inviting and designed to be inviting, and we think that someone is taking advantage of the kindness," Waukegan Police Cmdr. Joe Florip said.
Church leaders are already addressing security and expect to have systems - complete with cameras - installed soon.
"This community has some struggles with crime - which we are called to be in the midst of - but we also have to be wise about that and not trust that people aren't gonna be in here who don't care about us," Rev. Olson said.
Waukegan police said they are providing extra patrols around the city's churches following those burglaries.