The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

July 12, 2013

Vandals cause $4,000 in damages at New Columbia church

By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item

— NEW COLUMBIA — Vandals twice broke into a New Columbia church this week, busting their way through a door, trashing the sanctuary, then ruining electronics by urinating on them and writing graffiti on the walls, authorities said.

State police at Milton are investigating the entries at God’s Missionary Church on Ridge Road, which are believed to have occurred late Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Pastor Matthew Ellison discovered the first break-in Wednesday when he found a door had been damaged and was “just shocked” when he found Thursday the church had been broken into again.

“I thought surely, they wouldn’t be so stupid as to come back to the scene and do it again,” Ellison said Thursday. “But sure enough, this morning I found the door and window had been pushed in again.”

The first invasion saw the whole worship area trashed. Services were held in the church Wednesday night after the mess was cleaned up. The second time, the vandals focused exclusively on Ellison’s study, he said.

“Soda, Windex, water, anything liquid, they emptied it on the carpet,” Ellison said. Books and the American flag were thrown about. Water was poured over laptops, the copier, a paper shredder and other electronic equipment.

At one point, the culprits crawled into the ceiling and fell through into Ellison’s office, where they urinated all over the place. The ceiling fan was ripped down as well.

There were derogatory remarks written on walls and chalkboards, Ellison said.

Nothing was stolen, which leads Ellison to believe the perpetrators may be young, inexperienced criminals. “They walked right past musical instruments, a jar of money, things of good value,” he said. “We have bookcases galore, but hardly any of that was touched.”

He said he has no idea who would do such a thing to the church, which has been on Ridge Road for about 16 years. Neighbors are keeping an eye on the church while officials await the insurance adjuster and a security systems company to outfit the place.

After the first invasion, Ellison estimated the damage to be more than $4,000. Now with the second incident, “We’re waiting for the insurance adjuster to come tell us what we’re looking at,” he said.

But these incidents won’t stop worship in the church. “We’ll carry on this Sunday, and we begin our vacation Bible school next week,” Ellison said.

State police are studying fingerprints found at the scene. They ask anyone with information to call the barracks at (570) 524-2662.