CALDWELL, N.C. (WNCN) — The Orange County Sheriff’s Office is investigating after two churches were vandalized and suffered approximately $20,000 in damages late Wednesday or early Thursday.
According to the sheriff’s office, both churches are located in northern Orange County in the Caldwell community. The Little River Presbyterian Church and the New Bethel United Methodist Church were broken into sometime after 9:30 p.m. Oct. 5.
The suspect or suspects forcibly entered the churches, broke panes of glass and caused damage to the doors. Authorities said that “Once inside, the suspect(s) continued their destructive rampage.” Both churches sustained significant damage in the vandalism incidents.
Church members said the safe was targeted.
“They managed to get the door open. When they accessed the room they did not focus on anything except the safe,” said Earl McKee, chairman of Little River Presbyterian. “As you can see, they used a hammer to knock the dial and the handle off the safe in order to get it open.”
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said nothing appeared to have been stolen.
“It looked like the hurricane had already hit,” said Annette Walters, member of New Bethel United Methodist.
A fire extinguisher was discharged in one of the vandalized churches.
Authorities did not give an exact cost to repair the damage, but said that it appears the cost to repair and replace items will exceed $20,000.
“Any attack on a place of worship, regardless of whether it’s a church, or mosque, synagogue, cathedral, it doesn’t matter. It’s an attack on society,” McKee said.
Authorities are working to confirm if the two incidents are related.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction of the suspect(s).
Anyone with information can choose to remain anonymous.
Authorities encourage anyone with information to contact them at the following numbers or email address:
Investigator Jason Nazworth 919-245-2900 (Office), 919-245-2925 (Desk)
Investigator Keith Goodwin 919-245-2900 (Office), 919-245-2918 (Desk)