COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A number of businesses and a church in Midtown Columbus says they’re now on high alert after months of break-ins.
Pastor Charlotte Johnson says she locks the doors to her church, Revealing God’s Glory Ministries on 10th Avenue, every time she leaves. She’s done so for the past five years, but she says she was shocked to find her church burglarized.
“It took away the peace and tranquility. He came in two days in a row. The first time we determined how he came in and the second time we couldn’t tell how he got in,” says Johnson.
She says the burglar stole electronics and ate food from the kitchen. Next to the church is a motorcycle customizing shop and a discount mattress store. Both owners of those businesses say they’ve also had items stolen and their property vandalized multiple times in the past three months. One of the business owners says he’s even had his truck broken into.
"That’s what makes you so mad. You work hard and try to make an honest living and then this happens,” says Booker Taylor, the owner of Discount Mattress.
That all changed when one of the business owners, who is a former firefighter, went to his business in the middle of the night to look out for suspicious activity.
“He was actually around the corner. He had burglarized another business when I caught him," says George Bennett, owner of G&B Customs. "He had everything from that business, so I stopped him. I actually held him at gunpoint.”
Police arrived and arrested 36-year-old Christopher Coffey. He is charged with entering a motor vehicle with intent to commit theft, violation of probation and use of drug related objects. The local business owners say the experience raises the question of what more can be done to prevent this from happening.
“After talking to different business owners, it’s happening quite frequently across town. I just hope law enforcement gets involved so we can get these people off the street,” says Taylor.
The church says they have packed everything and are now relocating. The pastor says she doesn’t know where they’re relocating to, but they’re wanting to get out of the area as soon as possible. The Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office says Coffey will be in court on January 29.