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Church Break-Ins Rattle San Francisco Bayview Congregations

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) - Police are investigating a string of church break-ins in San Francisco's Bayview District.

"It seems sacrilegious. It seems like something that, just…that you don't do," said Deacon Cedric Akbar.

On Wednesday, March 27, someone broke into St. John's Missionary Baptist Church on Third Street in San Francisco.  Treasurer Jackie Griffin says the burglar used a pry bar.

"Broke open doors and desks and cabinets, anything that was locked and, we assumed, looking for cash," she told KPIX 5 reporter John Ramos.

Griffin said, besides some ice cream taken from the kitchen freezer, the burglars didn't get much because the church doesn't hold cash in the building overnight.  But the next day, she got a letter from police with surprising news. "We were the fifth church in a matter of two weeks."

The first occurred on March 16 at the Bayview Church of Christ. The next day, the Rainbow Seventh Day Adventist Church was hit. Four days later, Double Rock Baptist Church was burglarized and its safe pried open. Three days later, All Hallows Church was vandalized and then three days after that there was a break-in at St. John's. Five churches in total were targeted in 11 days. Deacon Cedric Akbar says as churches' attendance has declined so has regard for what they stand for.

"The church was always like a sacred place where everybody had respect for it, you know?" Deacon Akbar said. "And today, it seems like there's no respect for anything at all."

But rather than be angry, he considers this a challenge to his congregation to reach out to a troubled community, and practice what they preach.

"To learn how to forgive others and be able to lift them up," he said. "That's the most important thing. I got a lot of work to do. We as a church have a lot of work to do, and it's time for us to get started and do it."

At St. John's, they'll be looking into more security for the building, although people there are sad that that's even necessary. SFPD was not available for comment on Sunday, but will hold a meeting on Wednesday at its Bayview Station to discuss the church burglaries. Representatives from all denominations have been invited.

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