Massachusetts police are investigating a string of church robberies on the North Shore that they say could be related.
Authorities say a total of four churches were targeted over the weekend — three in Newburyport and one in nearby Salisbury.
Photos of the damage inside East Parish United Methodist in Salisbury show part of the church ransacked, a door jimmied open and another door kicked in.
“It's heartbreaking. Sad that anybody would desecrate a church,” said Nancy George, a parishioner. “It’s also sad that people are in such need that they do things like this.”
The damage was discovered Monday morning when the sexton arrived. George said the suspect broke in through a kitchen window.
“They kicked through at least three doors to get their way into the administrative part of the church where they though there might be money,” said George. “They broke into a safe.”
In Newburyport, robbers struck the Old South First Presbyterian Church and the First Religious Society Church.
In addition, the librarian at the First Church of Christ Scientist said thieves broke in twice since Friday — making off with a couple hundred dollars in cash from the reading room which was raised from selling bibles and religious reference books.
“It’s a crime of opportunity, you know there’s cash in the churches,” said Newburyport City Marshal Mark Murray.
Police in both towns are trying to determine who’s responsible and if any or all of the break-ins can be connected to the same culprits.
“Churches have been broken into before but I can’t remember in my career this many in such a short time,” said Murray.
Police said mostly cash and a few electronics were stolen in each of the incidents.
So far, there are no leads.
“Seek help, ask God for forgiveness and try to get your act together and live the kind of life you should live,” said George.