Members of a small church in Springfield, Mass. have been left devastated after a thief reportedly executed a large-scale robbery of the church sometime last week, taking "everything except the pews," according to the congregation's spokesperson.
"The church was totally stripped," Bernadine Smith, a longtime member of Holy Temple Church of God in Christ, located near Springfield's North End, told masslive.com of the robbery that is suspected to have taken place sometime between Aug. 20 and 22.
"Everything but the pews and a couple chairs out of the pulpit," Smith added, referencing the massive amount of items stolen from the church.
Local police indicate that someone with a key broke into the church sometime last week and stole everything from kitchen utensils to office supplies, as well as musical equipment, a PA system, the church organ, and several church-related documents. The damage incurred by the church is estimated at $150,000.
The church was reportedly founded in the area 80 years ago, and has sat in its current location since 1965. Although it once boasted a weekly attendance of 300, church membership has since declined, a result of the church's location in the inner city, according to Smith.
Smith, 80, added to the local ABC40 station that although she cannot prove the church robbery was an inside job, she has a hunch that some of the church's keys were in the hands of the wrong people. "I can't really tell if there were signs of forced entry. I do know that people had keys that were no longer supposed to be entering this church," Smith said.
Numerous churches across the nation have suffered robberies in the past several months. In April, the St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church of Shelby Township, Mich. lost nearly $40,000 in donations from Easter Sunday when robbers, described by police as professionals, broke into the church's safe. In another incident, seven area churches in Laurel County, Kentucky were robbed of thousands of dollars in musical equipment and electronics in January 2012.