Greenville County (WSPA)
Nearly a half dozen churches in the Upstate are repairing or cleaning up damage done by vandals.
Since the end of January and nearly every weekend after, church members found satanic and degrading messages on their buildings. One referred to the late Billy Graham.
Law enforcement saying at this point churches are the only target they’ve seen. Most of the church’s didn’t have security cameras, so finding the person responsible will come down to old fashioned detective work and help from the public.
It’s suppose to be a place where people focus on God’s written word… but now the focus is on what’s written on the outside of the buildings.
Sgt.Ryan Flood with the Greenville Co. Sheriffs Office says, “since January 27 through this weekend we’ve had five documented incidents in which vandals have gone to various churches on the south end and east side of Greenville, Simpsonville, Piedmont area”
Vandals spray painted derogatory comments in Spanish on four houses of worship. All different denominations.
Security cameras from a fifth church caught someone walking on their property. The next day they found their three crosses cut in half. Leaving investigators with little more than the hand writing on the wall to go by.
Sgt. Flood said, “It is very, very disturbing the messages that have been written were just looking for whatever tips and information we can get to try to tie these together.”
Vandalism is a misdemeanor in Greenville County, However, if damages surpass $2000 that same infraction is seen as a Felony. State lawmakers are working to add teeth to what’s already on the books. Senator William Timmons is on the subcommittee discussing the law.
Senator Timmons, (R) Greenville says “It will allow magistrates to more effectively punish the individuals who are committing these crimes. That punishment could be a fine it could be repainting whatever they defaced”
While Strengthening laws are important, solving crimes becomes easier with the publics helps.
Sgt. Flood said, “We are upping our patrols specifically at the churches at nighttime Hours, but again we need assistance from the community too if they have any information as well.”
All of the churches we spoke with today say they’re putting in security cameras or adjusting their existing ones. Also, many say they’re increasing security on their grounds.
People are reaching out to Life Spring Community Church as some are coming to help them scrub the building to get the graffiti off, while others are donating money to help buy cameras for the outside of the buildings.