Police have no suspects in rash of Rifle burglaries
RIFLE – The Rev. Dave Dennis says he saw the devil on his first Sunday as pastor of Fellowship of the Rockies Church in Rifle. The church is one of many churches and schools in Rifle that have been hit by a rash of burglaries this summer that have police scratching their heads. Whoever the burglars are, they’re causing plenty of headaches and wreaking more than a little havoc. “I just thought it was the devil coming after me as a pastor,” Dennis said. On June 18, his first Sunday as the church’s pastor, Dennis found maple syrup and sour milk poured all over the church carpet. Syrup had been poured in the baptismal area, too, he said. “They did things like poured syrup into the kids’ aquarium and killed all their fish,” Dennis said. The syrup and milk left some permanent stains, he said, but with the hard work of church volunteers, the mess was cleaned up. Rifle Police Chief Daryl Meisner is looking for suspects, but so far, few clues have turned up. “The biggest thing is that somebody in the community knows who’s responsible, and they need to report that,” Rifle Police Chief Daryl Meisner said. “You can’t have this number of crimes involving schools and churches and not know about it.”The burglaries began once local schools went on summer vacation, he said. “My guess is, they’ll stop as soon as school is back in session.”The list of burglaries is long. On June 16, someone broke into the First Assembly of God on Fifth Street and made off with $250 in donations, a $3,000 gold diamond solitaire ring and a Nintendo GameBoy. On June 22, a burglar broke into the Bethel Baptist Church on Whiteriver Avenue, and stole two knives, a yellow backpack and a DVD player – all worth less than $150. The Emmanuel Lutheran Church on Fifth Street became victim to burglary on July 11, when a Dell laptop, cash, a figure of Baby Jesus, deeds and loan agreement to the church and other items were discovered stolen. The burglar sprayed a can of whipped cream all over the church kitchen and lobby before leaving. Rifle High School was hit on May 24, when a janitor spotted four or five intruders removing ceiling tiles. The intruders immediately fled and were never found. Rifle High, Rifle Middle and Wamsley Elementary schools were vandalized on or around June 3, when school officials found broken windows and air conditioning vents on the campuses. RHS officials notified police June 7 about a series of thefts from the school, which at the time most recently included the disappearance of a set of the school’s master keys. Somebody egged Highland Elementary School on June 29 after writing on the school’s windows with wax. Possibly related are two burglaries at local businesses, including a June 17 incident at the Columbine Market where burglars did $2,000 in property damage, and a June 26 incident at Mi Hacienda Restaurant on Whiteriver Avenue. In that burglary, somebody destroyed a can of whipped cream and stole alcohol, concert speakers and a drum set. Most recently, burglars hit the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Village Drive in Rifle Village South on July 15 or 16, said Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario. The burglars took two CD players and $30 in cash. Vallario said kids, transients or people looking for drug money could be to blame. All cases remain under investigation, Meisner said. Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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