Photo by Scott Franz
Police are searching for a vandal who they say has damaged four Steamboat churches since Oct. 9. The vandal last month damaged this window at United Methodist Church at Eighth and Oak streets.
Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs Police Department is looking for a vandal they say has thrown rocks through the windows of several churches, causing more than $1,000 in estimated damage.
Police Sgt. Scott Middleton said Sunday that on six separate occasions beginning last month, officers have taken reports of vandalism at Holy Name Catholic Church, United Methodist Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Catholic, Methodist and Episcopal churches are downtown on Oak Street, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is on Central Park Drive.
Middleton said officers on Sunday were called to a report of a broken window at Holy Name Catholic Church. Police said they also investigated a report of a broken window at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints early Monday morning. The recent incidents come after the suspected vandal damaged a six-foot-tall cement cross at the Episcopal church on Oct. 29.
Scott Turner, priest at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, said Monday that the vandal attempted to completely overturn the cross using a log, but managed only to separate it from its base.
“My detective mind tells me this is someone who is fairly young and not too big otherwise they probably would have succeeded in turning that cross over,” Turner said.
Police were called to other reports of vandalism at the churches Oct. 21, 23 and 26, and they think all of the incidents are related.
Although police are increasing their patrols around the churches in the wake of the incidents, they are asking the public to keep an eye out for the culprit.
“We don’t have the resources or the manpower to constantly monitor these churches so we’re asking for the public to help us identify any suspects and to report any damage or suspicious parties they see near the buildings,” Middleton said.
He said each window broken at the churches costs more than $200 to replace. He also said police do not have any leads on a suspect and the churches did not receive any specific threat before they were vandalized.
“It seems like this is the act of someone who has a vendetta against all churches,” Middleton said.
United Methodist Church Pastor Tim Selby said he thought damage done to the church’s reader board last month was a random act until other pastors started to report damage to their churches.
“Not having any clue who would be doing this or why, it’s hard to have much of a reaction to it all,” Selby said Monday. “Obviously we wish it wasn’t happening, but I’m more curious than anything about what the motivation for these acts would be.”
Middleton said anyone who witnesses an act of vandalism should call 911, and individuals with information regarding the recent vandalism at the churches can call Routt County Crime Stoppers at 970-870-6226. Anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest of the individual responsible for the vandalism may be eligible to receive a cash reward, he said. Callers can remain anonymous.