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A family of three was arrested after selling stolen church property at a yard sale in Slidell, Louisiana. Members of the church are grateful that the property has been returned, but authorities are still conducting an investigation into the theft of the property.
Clariese Jones, Paul Mikell and their daughter, Olivia Jones, admitted to robbing the El Bethel Apostolic Ministry church. They reportedly stole music equipment, water coolers, electronics and generators in two separate robberies of the church, which is undergoing construction.
An anonymous tip led authorities to a yard sale, where they found the stolen items and proceeded to take them, and the robbers, into custody. They have been booked on the charge of simple burglary of a religious building and are being held on $30,000 bond.
The trio told police how they managed to steal the goods from the church, Sheriff Jack Strain told WWLTV.com.
"As it unfolded, find out the step-dad waits in the car while the mom and daughter carries the equipment out of the church and into the car, then sells it right down the street," Strain said. "You would say it's funny, but there's really no laughing matter here."
"We've recovered most of it," Capt. George Bonnett told ABC News. "We're very close to having all of it – about 95 percent has been recovered."
Now police are asking the public to help locate the rest of the missing items, which include the generators and speakers. They are also looking for a fourth man who may be connected to the crimes; he is known only as "Beaux."
"As far as right now," Detective Jason Dammon told WWLTV, "'Beaux' resides somewhere in Picayune. Picayune P.D. is assisting us in this matter and hopefully we'll be able to wrap this up soon."
Church members are currently praying for those who robbed them and are giving thanks for the property that has already been returned.
"We're happy about it, but we're sad about it for someone to take it to such an extreme to steal from a church," member Iris Anderson said, "especially one trying to be built."