Sheriff’s Office investigating string of break-ins at churches

Published 8:40 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Deputies with the Carter County Sheriff’s Office are investigating a string of burglaries at churches across the county.

Three churches reported break-ins at their facilities to the Sheriff’s Office on Sunday and Monday.

On Sunday morning, around 9:20 a.m., Deputy Nicholas Free responded to Gap Creek Church of Christ, located at 1106 Gap Creek Road, Elizabethton, on a report of a break-in. When he arrived on the scene, Free spoke with Dennis Stout, who had called 911 to report the burglary.

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“Mr. Stout stated that when he arrived at the church this morning, he noticed that glass was broken around the door handle on the back door of the church,” Free said. “Mr. Stout entered the church and found that the suspect had kicked the church of­fice door in and took three guitars, one router, and one computer monitor. The suspect also damaged a flat screen TV.”

A short time later, Free responded to report of an­other church break-in just about three miles away. A church member at Sims Hill Christian Church, located at 206 Sims Hill Road, called 911 to report the burglary.

“Upon arrival, I made contact with the caller, Mr. Teddy Tipton, and he stated that the suspect made entry by breaking into the back window of the fellowship hall and exited by the back door,” Free said. “I asked Mr. Tipton if anything was missing from the building and he stated nothing was missing that he knew of.”

The following day depu­ties once again received a report of a break-in at a local church.

Around 11:30 a.m. on Monday, CCSO Lt. Derrick Hamm responded to Oak Grove Church of Christ, located at 436 Jim El­liott Road, on a report of a burglary called in by a Tennessee Department of Transportation worker who had already left the scene.

“Upon arrival, I observed the rear door had been pried open,” Hamm said. “After observing this, I cleared the church and found that several rooms had been rum­maged through, but nothing appeared to be missing.”

The church’s pastor and another member arrived on the scene and walked through the church to check it. Hamm said they reported nothing missing at that time.

Hamm noted he found some items at the scene which he placed into evi­dence.

Anyone with information regarding the break-ins at any of theses churches is asked to contact the Carter County Sheriff’s Office at 423-542-1845.

Tips can also be submitted anonymously online through the Sheriff’s Office website. To submit an online tip, go to, click on contact us, and select “Crime Tip.”