CLEVELAND — Church staff and Cleveland police found Damascus Road Ministries in Cleveland damaged and flooded last Friday after someone broke in and stole copper piping, televisions and even candy from the vending machine, according to Cleveland police.
An officer responded to the church on Harvard Avenue at about noon on Friday and found the main doors apparently forced open, according to the police report. An officer observed parts of the ceiling were damaged with copper pipes removed from various sections of the building.
There was water spraying from missing pipes in a bathroom in the church’s office area, with about four inches of standing water, causing damage to the walls and floors below, the report states.
The officer observed that there was an HVAC air conditioning unit missing from the main hallway.
Grady Stevenson, the church’s pastor, walked through the rest of the property with the officer, showing where three 55” televisions once hung. Stevenson and the officer noticed the candy vending machine had been smashed open, and most of the candy had been taken. They also saw more copper pipes missing from other bathrooms.
There was about eight inches of standing water in the church’s basement, and copper pipes were missing from the water heating area, the report states. Stevenson had the water company perform an emergency shut-off of the property’s water, but the report notes that a substantial amount of water damage had already been done to the building.
Stevenson told police he had last been present at the church about two weeks ago, as they had not been hosting their congregation since the pandemic began. The church had been mostly unoccupied since that time.
While surveillance cameras on the church’s exterior were not in operation, Stevenson said he would check to see if any footage had been stored in the cloud before they went offline, the report states.
Stevenson told News 5 he has no idea why someone would do this to the church.
“I’ll say this – the congregation is not discouraged,” he said. “They are looking forward to the day that we can go back in and have service.”
CrimeStoppers is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the individual(s) involved. You can submit a tip to www.25Crime.com or call 216-25-CRIME.
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