Suspect in Church Burglaries Behind Bars

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BEAVERTOWN -- John Shaffer, 18, of Middleburg was picked up this weekend in Florida on an arrest warrant.

He will be returned to the area to face charges.

That's according to investigators, who say Shaffer admitted to breaking into churches in Beavertown back in June.

"We came up to set it back together and found the back door was wide open," said Pastor Carl Bergerson.

Pastor Bergerson remembers back to the break-in at St. Paul's Reformed church in June.

Police believe it was the same person who hit the United Methodist Church across the street in Beavertown.

Missing from St.Paul's: a laptop and some money from a collection box.

"The laptop, we had to go out and buy another one. We needed to have it to use as part of the ministry," said Pastor Bergerson.

The folks at St. Paul's Reformed Church in Beavertown said they had to replace the entire back door after the break-in, it was severely damaged. Not only that, they're also taking home expensive items like their laptop like the one that went missing, so if there are any future break-ins, they don't result in a loss like that.

Investigators said they tracked down the laptop which, according to police, was pawned off by Shaffer.

Middleburg police interviewed Shaffer, showed him the laptop, and say he admitted to the church break-ins in Beavertown but didn't stick around long.

"Before charges were filed, he took off with a friend to Baltimore, then later went to Florida, where he was picked up for asking for directions to the beach in a hurricane warning," said David Shaffer, a member of the Middleburg Police.

There have been more than a dozen similar break-ins at churches throughout Snyder and Union counties and while police have not connected them to Shaffer.

People in the church community hope his arrest starts to answer some questions.

"What's going to happen next, how many people are involved in this, we're obviously curiously like everyone else, if this connects to the other church break-ins in the area," said Pastor Bergerson.