When a member of Pine Mountain Gospel Church noticed lights on in a boarded off section of the building, it was a dead giveaway that someone had broken in.
Youth pastor Blair Ecker said someone had broken in through an undisclosed means and basically explored the older part of the building, which was boarded off from the sections that are most used.
“It was kids being curious, and we kind of knew that right when we got here. Nothing was missing, nothing was broken,” Ecker said. “I hate to throw the book at some kid. This building is such a draw for the curious kids.”
“What they did there wasn’t a lot of damage,” said Pine River Police Chief Paul Sand. “It was more like vandalism.”
Ecker asked the children in the congregation to spread the word that the responsible party was going to be given the chance to avoid charges.
“I just put out word to them and I said by Thursday night at six o’clock I’m going to be here to clean that up. If they are here that’s their get out of jail card. They showed up and they were really nice guys, too,” Ecker said.
Ecker said police had told him no charges were necessary if the guilty parties confessed, apologized and cleaned up the mess they left behind.
Sand said the break in is still under investigation.
“If they are adults or juveniles they’ll probably go to court, and then we’ll let the attorney up there decide if and what they want to charge them for,” Sand said.
The charges could result in more community service or other charges.
Ecker said the church is in agreement that the admission, apology and assistance in cleaning up were satisfactory discipline, and they don’t wish to encourage legal action against the responsible kids.
“I was impressed when they showed up. Then I was expecting tattoos and piercings. We actually had fun cleaning it up. They were good guys. I was glad that it worked out that way,” Ecker said. “It turned into a positive thing. I met these three guys and invited them to church even. They said they might check it out.”
This is the first time the building has been broken into or vandalized since becoming Pine Mountain Gospel Church. This break-in occurred at 10:24 a.m. Sunday, April 21. Though Sand and Ecker would not give details about the responsible parties, what vandalism took place or where they entered the building, Ecker said the church will depend more on the security system in the future to prevent future incidents.