Kennard church burglarized; stolen church van recovered - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Kennard church burglarized; stolen church van recovered

Sunday service at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Kennard went on as scheduled minus two key board stolen overnight Thursday in a burglary. Sunday service at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Kennard went on as scheduled minus two key board stolen overnight Thursday in a burglary.
New Hope's stolen church van was found Saturday parked outside a dollar store in Crockett. New Hope's stolen church van was found Saturday parked outside a dollar store in Crockett.
Head Deacon Willie Mitchell Sr. said the thief left the van dirty on the outside and filthy inside. Head Deacon Willie Mitchell Sr. said the thief left the van dirty on the outside and filthy inside.
KENNARD, TX (KTRE) - Last Thursday's severe storms proved to be no rest for crime. This is the testimony for New Hope Missionary Baptist Church on Highway 7 West in Kennard.

Church Secretary Peggy Griffin said she has never seen anything like this.

"I would say it happened possibly Thursday night when we had a rain storm," she recalled. “"I know the van was here Sunday," she said while pointing to a metal carport on the west end of the church grounds. "And the [church van is normally parked] under the shed."

Head Deacon Willie Mitchell, Sr. arrived on the scene Friday and was the first to inspect the aftermath of the church break in.

"We opened that door and all that paper work was on the floor. The file cabinet had been broken into,” said the 72-year-old Mitchell. He's been a member of New Hope for 70 years. “They stole keys to the church van, two keyboards and lots of canned goods, paper plates and napkins from the fellowship hall.”

Mitchell says there were more valuable items inside the church at the time of burglary. Because the thieves weren't interested in high-value items, he suspects drugs are involved.

"We got a lot of crack heads around Kennard, rather you know it or not," the deacon said about this small community of some 300 people.

"I was just wondering,” Griffin questioned, “who would do it because it never happened before."

Mitchell says Houston County deputies called his wife on Friday to alert them of a sighting of the church van. Mitchell called the department back and was told the church van was spotted up in Grapeland—about 30 miles northwest of Kennard.

Mitchell said he was told by the deputy, "The guy was hunting for a pawn shop to try and sell the stuff."

On Saturday, life-long member Press Adar got a call from authorities in Crockett.

"The Police department called me and told me to come get the van at the Dollar Store in Crockett. That's where it was," Adar said. And he went to retrieve the vehicle.

The recovered van is being kept away from the church because it is an on-going investigation. And Deacon Mitchell said whoever stole this van, left it very dirty. Because they drove it through a lot of mud. They also trashed the inside of the van.

"It really didn't shock me,” Adar said about the church break in in their small community, “Because another church down in Pennington got broken into about a week or so ago. It's Antioch Missionary Baptist Church."

The town of Pennington is about 17 miles southwest of Kennard.

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