Church burglar left enlightening clue


    A 3-inch flashlight could come back to haunt an opportunistic burglar, who made off with more than $10,000 worth of electronic equipment from an east Medford church.

    One or more thieves found an unlocked door and ransacked Trinity Orthodox Presbyterian Church sometime between its Sunday evening service and a Tuesday morning Bible study. The theft was discovered when two of the church’s elders arrived to make coffee for the 7 a.m. study.

    A doorway used by children playing in the church yard was apparently left unsecured Sunday evening.

    “We don’t live in a society where all you have to do is keep the doors locked, even though in this case it would’ve helped,” Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said Wednesday. “Most of the time criminals are looking for a crime of opportunity. It looks like there could even be more than one person involved, there were no security alarms and they had a heyday.”

    But sometime during the spree, a small flashlight was dropped on the floor.

    “It was one of those random things on the ground that none of us recognized,” said Dennis Gettman, an elder at the church.

    It turned up as a police forensics technician scoured the church for fingerprints and evidence.

    “That’s something that could break the case wide open,” Budreau said.

    Fingerprints or potentially DNA could point the finger to the perpetrator.

    “It’s hit and miss, in the more disorganized, spur-of-the-moment crimes, there will be no gloves or face covering,” Budreau said.

    However, processing the evidence may take a while, he said, and it’s possible stolen property may resurface before the lab report comes back.

    “It’s not like the movies where you get the report back in hours, or even days,” Budreau said. “We send the stuff to the Oregon State Police crime lab, but they’re dealing with a lot of other cases. We anxiously await, but it’s not uncommon for it to take a couple of months.”

    Typically, in such cases, he said, property is sold or shows up in a pawn shop.

    “That’s when we start the trail back to who stole the property,” Budreau said. “Finding the property is usually paramount in trailing back to the suspect. If that fizzles out, then we take a look at the collected forensics. Flashlights or other items handled by the suspect is always valuable evidence.”

    When elders Cole Brumley and Scott Searcy arrived Tuesday, they discovered the soundboard lid was lying on the stairs. They found church office file drawers pried open and ransacked, a safe stored behind the sanctuary had been taken as well as music equipment.

    Among the stolen items were a Behringer X32 Digital Mixer, A Bryston amplifier, 15 microphones, a pair of amplifiers, a wireless microphone and a pickup to amplify a violin.

    A new Acer Aspire laptop was also taken, but there was no sensitive data stored on its drives.

    “They’re going to be real disappointed if they ever get into it,” Gettman said. “We got it so they would have something to print bulletins.”

    Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or Follow him on Twitter at @GregMTBusiness or

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