OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Ocean Springs Police have arrested three suspects who allegedly robbed a church and more than 30 cars throughout the city. The three facing charges are all just teenagers.
When Pastor Paul Perkins pulled up to Grace Independent Baptist Church Tuesday morning, he immediately saw something was wrong.
"I drove into the parking lot. There were two Ocean Springs Police cars there and probably four or five officers walking around, so that set a little clue," said Perkins.
Just hours earlier, Ocean Springs Police arrested three teenagers for suspected burglary, among them 17-year-old Jonathan Diaz.
"Approximately 4:30 yesterday morning, patrol officers made some contact with some juvenile males. Upon making contact with those subjects, they were able to quickly realize that the juveniles had property on them that was obviously something that you would not typically carry around at that time in the morning," said Det. Lt. John Flowers of the Ocean Springs Police Department.
Items stolen included GPS devices, computers and iPads. According to police, the Grace Baptist Church's academy and more than 30 vehicles in the surrounding neighborhood were broken into. Police believe the teens are also responsible for damage done to the Gay Lemon Sports Complex concession stand.
All the burglaries occurred within walking distance of each other, and between the hours of midnight and 4:30 am.
"One common denominator amongst all the auto burglaries is the juveniles targeted cars with unlocked doors. All the doors were unlocked. If the doors were locked, they would move to the next vehicle that had unlocked doors," said Flowers.
According to police, all three suspects lived nearby and were known in the usually quiet area.
"Lesson to be learned here would be to lock your vehicle doors, if at all possible. A lot of time, people get into a hurry, they're tired, get off at nighttime, so forth; you can make it a little more difficult for the suspects to gain entry to you vehicles and steal your property," said Flowers.
Perkins said the church has installed dead bolts to doors and is looking to add other security measures as well.