PORTLAND -- Tips from the community helped police find and capture the suspect in two burglaries before Palm Sunday services at a Southeast Portland church.
The burglar stole thousands of dollars worth of items from the Central Christian Church on February 25 and March 24. A surveillance video showed him leaving on a bicycle after hitting every floor of the three-story church just before Palm Sunday services.
Police on Monday circulated a photo taken off the surveillance video to local media, hoping someone would recognize the thief and alert officers.
That's exactly what happened and later that night, suspect Jeffrey Wilson, 45, was caught.
"Portland Police officers assigned to East Precinct responded to a call from a community member who told police that the suspect in a recent church burglary was walking near Southeast 55th Avenue and Woodward Street," explained Sgt. Pete Simpson with the Portland Police Bureau. "This arrest was made possible due to multiple tips from the community about the burglary and the suspect's identification."
Reverend David Brink said he's been a minister for nearly 40 years and never before had to cancel services for something like that.
"It just makes you feel weak in the knees. It makes you feel very violated and kind of devastated, too It's hard to think clearly when so much has happened," Brink said.
Detectives said Wilson stole everything from speakers and amplifiers, to records containing information about church members. Door knobs were also shattered and the church safe was cracked open with a hammer.
Wilson was charged with two counts of burglary. Detectives also said they were investigating the possibility that he was involved in other burglaries but no additional charges were pending at this time.
Central Christian Church is located at 1844 SE Cesar E Chavez Boulevard.