Church Burglar Sentenced

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MIDDLEBURG -- A man from Snyder County learned his punishment for burglarizing nearly a dozen churches in central Pennsylvania.

A judge in Snyder County sentenced John Shaffer, 19, from Middleburg Tuesday morning to nine to 23 months in prison.

While a judge sentenced Shaffer to nine months in jail, Shaffer did get credit for time served so he can get out of jail as soon as he finds a place to live.

Shaffer has been in jail in Snyder County for almost a year but will soon be released.

In June he pleaded no contest to burglarizing 10 churches and one business.  The plea means Shaffer does not admit guilt, but can be sentenced as though he did.

One of the places police said he broke into is Penn View Bible Institute near Middleburg.

"He broke into the school, damaged some doors in the process of getting into the building.  He stole some money from the main office, money that students had raised for various projects," said John Zechman of Penn View Bible Institute.

The judge told Shaffer, "you have a tough road, but I believe you are capable of redemption."

Penn View Bible Institute President John Zechman agrees.  He is happy with the sentence given to Shaffer.

"I believe that he is.  He's young and I want to see him being given a chance."

Shaffer was also sentenced to 600 hours community service.  Some church officials hope he serves that community service at the churches he burglarized.john shaffer church burglaries

"I would certainly invite John to come to church," said Zechman.

"If he can get enough good guidance, there's a lot of hope in that boy," said Kathy Dock of Beavertown.

Dock is a family friend of Shaffer's and hopes to help him find a job.

"I don't want him back in here again because it was breaking my heart."

Shaffer must also pay restitution to all of the churches that were victimized.