Crime & Courts

Arrests may be tied to 3 church burglaries

Police think three men arrested early Tuesday may be linked to burglaries reported at three churches in west Wichita this week.

Alert neighbors spotted someone acting suspiciously outside Westlink Church of Christ in west Wichita at about 3 a.m., police said. The man was seen walking around a fence, jumping onto the fence and then removing items from a shed.

The witnesses described the vehicle the man left in, and officers responding to the call spotted it a short time later.

After pulling the car over, the officers found property that was later confirmed to have come from Westlink.

"More importantly, we believe, based on everything we recovered, these had been burglars that had been hitting churches along the area," Lt. Doug Nolte said.

Two other men linked to the burglaries were arrested in the neighborhood a short time later, Nolte said.

Burglaries were also reported at Bethel Life Center, 3777 S. Meridian, and Asbury United Methodist Church's west campus, 11910 W. Pawnee.

Someone broke into an outbuilding at Bethel Life Center early Tuesday, stealing a pair of shoes, said Melissa Baier, an administrative assistant at the church.

"It's sad, because if he would have asked, we probably would have just given them to him," Baier said.

Stealing from churches is particularly sad, she added, "because that's who would probably have helped them."

All three churches may have been burglarized the same night, police told Baier.

Specifics on what was taken were not released, but Baier said she was told police have recovered a lot of property.