Oconee County Arsons and Church Vandalism Connected - WSPA.com

Oconee County Arsons and Church Vandalism Connected

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Investigators with the Oconee County Sheriff's Office say someone set a house on fire twice and vandalized a church in the Utica Mill Hill area near Seneca.

"We're talking about individuals trying to set houses on fire," said Jimmy Watt with the Oconee County Sheriff's Office. "They are robbing churches. They're vandalizing. That's a public safety issue for everyone involved."

Sunday morning makes the second time a house on Ames Street burned. The first time was Thanksgiving morning.

Oconee County deputies believe someone intentionally set both fires at the home. Someone even broke in and stole more than $10,000 items from the home during the first arson.

Investigators believe the two house fires are connected to a breakin at the Ann Hope United Methodist Church. The church is less than half a mile from the Ames Street arsons, and it happened sometime between November 21-23. Deputies say someone broke into the church, vandalized it and stole more than $9,000 worth of equipment.

"There was a little bit of shock and hurt," said Pastor Jim Morgan.

The Oconee County Sheriff's Office will not say why they believe the crimes are connected, but say their investigations reveals a link.

If you have any information call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC. If you know anything specifically about the arsons call 1-800-92-ARSON.

Both programs offer rewards for information leading to an arrest.

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