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Tuesday
Nov232010

String of Church Robberies in Oregon and San Francisco

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SPRINGFIELD, Ore.) -- A string of church burglaries in suburban Oregon and another in San Francisco has prompted tightened security around houses of worship, including ramped-up patrols and high-tech surveillance equipment.

The extra measures resulted in the arrest of a suspect in six church robberies in Springfield, Ore., a town neighboring Eugene.

Ryan Schroder, 28, of Springfield was held without bail in Lane County Jail on six felony charges of burglary. Schroder was accused of robbing cash boxes at five churches, including one he struck twice, in a three-week crime spree, said Springfield Police Sgt. David Lewis.

His arrest this week came just days after he finished his "post-prison supervision" following 18 months behind bars for two church robberies in 2004, Lewis said.

But Springfield is not the only community plagued by church robberies. In mid-October, police in San Francisco reported that six Bay Area churches had been robbed over a two-month period. One of those churches, St. Francis Episcopal Church, was hit five times.

After the string of robberies, St. Francis Episcopal decided to fight back, spending $20,000 on high-tech surveillance cameras along with motion detection lights. The church also installed a formidable front gate controlled by a coded combination lock.

So far, the added measures have brought an end to the rash of burglaries.

"I think it's the sign of our times, of the desperation that people feel and also people knowing that a church is vulnerable and many of us don't have security systems," St. Francis Episcopal's Rev. Mark Ruyak told ABC News affiliate KGO-TV in San Francisco.

Six churches in total were hit between August and September in the southwest part of San Francisco, and police said they don't think the break-ins are connected to one another.

As in Springfield, the SFPD has urged people who live near these churches to report anything they think that may look suspicious.

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