3 church break-ins over 2 weeks leave Salvation Army struggling to support communities

Three Salvation Army churches north of Gander have been broken into, stolen from and vandalized this month.

Thieves took two guitars, two safes, a laptop and food, and the Salvation Army's Maj. Rene Loveless said the crimes are upsetting for the church community.

"It's unsettling for everyone, and the community at large.… It also interferes with our ability to support vulnerable people."

Police believe the first break-in took place in Birchy Bay some time between Feb. 10 and 17, the second in Comfort Cove between Feb. 19 and 20, and the most recent in Bayview some time between Feb. 24 and 25. 

The three communities are all within the New World Island area of the province, about 95 kilometres north of Gander.  

Loveless said much of the stolen property, including the missing money, was supposed to go toward food banks, helping the homeless and running community programs.

"Our churches exist to provide a safe place for people to worship together, and also where we can offer practical assistance to those needing help in the community," Loveless said.


The majority of the damage to the three churches came from doors being broken down as the thieves gained entry to the buildings and their rooms and offices.

Loveless said there is no plan right now for how the Salvation Army will replace the money and items taken.

He doesn't believe the Salvation Army was targeted. 

"I think it's opportunity and circumstance," he said.

"If people are needing assistance they can certainly come to us and we'll be there for them rather than taking these kinds of actions if they're in need of food and that kind of support."

The RCMP say they're investigating the break-ins. Anyone with information can contact Lewisporte RCMP, Twillingate RCMP or Crime Stoppers. 

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