A 115-year-old church in the Bronx was desecrated and burglarized, with the thieves causing almost $10,000 worth of damage and capping off their crime with an ungodly, vile act — all while the cameras were rolling.
A group of people were seen on video breaking into the Creston Avenue Baptist Church on East 188th Street early Tuesday morning. They entered by kicking in a door in a back alleyway, and spent hours taking electronics and vandalizing the building.
Video shows two people making their way inside the church, garbage bags in hand, while another man walks around. Surveillance photos show the duo with computers in hand — donated iMacs meant for an after-school program at the church.
In addition to the high-priced pilfering, the burglars were seen taking microphones, wires and amplifiers from drum kits. They also went through drawers and shelves, taking whatever they could find that was possibly worth something.
"It feels like they broke into my house, my spiritual home," said Emeka Oseafiana, who has been a part of the church his entire life. It's where he and his wife we married.
He said the robbers tried to break into the safe, but were unable to get inside. Adding insult to injury, one was caught on camera defecating in the church's foyer.
"Not even a place of God is respected," Oseafiana said. "You would think a church is sacred, that is not something sacred to do in a church."
The century-old church prides itself on helping the community, with a food pantry that has been open to those in need for more than 20 years. That need has quadrupled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The church had to cancel its pantry on Wednesday as it cleaned up the mess, and the line on Friday was wrapped around the block. Some in the community suspected those who committed the crime go to the pantry, giving them an idea of the layout and what's inside.
"It's very possible that the same individuals that came in here and did that, possibly stood in line and got help from the church," Oseafiana said. "We would have helped them regardless."
Oseafiana said the people responsible may have thought they unplugged the security system, but "thank God for the cloud."
The church, which has been closed during the pandemic, was hoping to reopen its doors sometime in early August. However, those plans are now on hold.
"What they did will not defeat us. It makes us stronger," said church member Julianna Watson.