Burglaries plague over 40 churches in Michigan and Ohio since August

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(CBS/AP) HOWELL, Mich. - Authorities say burglars have broken into more than 40 churches in mostly rural areas of Michigan and Ohio since August, CBS Detroit reports.

Police believe the burglaries are connected and may have been committed by the same individuals. They say the break-ins have been reported in Michigan's Lenawee, Monroe, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Livingston and Genesee counties, as well as Fulton County, Ohio, near the states' border.

The suspects entered the churches by prying open windows and doors. They have allegedly ransacked offices, rifled through drawers and forced open safes, the station says.

According to officials, the culprits have stolen money, musical instruments and video equipment. However, in several instances the suspects walked away with nothing.

No arrests have been made, but two men were captured on surveillance video while burglarizing a Genesee County church in October. Pastor James Rolf told the Detroit Free Press that the crooks stole three Walmart gift cards. The church, however, knew the card numbers and Walmart was able to track down the stolen cards, which were used at a store in Canton to purchase a car stereo and speakers, police said. The suspects have yet to be identified.

"Someone must be in a desperate place if they're going to burglarize a church," Rev. Gregory Joyce of St. Vladimir Orthodox Church in Lima Township told the Detroit Free Press. "We should not be looking for revenge. We should be praying for these folks."

Many of the churches that were broken into did not have security systems and are now installing them as a result, CBS Detroit reports.