Suspected serial church burglar caught on camera

Pasco County deputies are searching for the man responsible for a string of break-ins that include several churches, Sheriff Chris Nocco said Tuesday.

There have been a total of 17 break-ins since July 1: Nine at churches on the eastern side of the county and eight at mobile home parks in Zephyrhills. Detectives believe the same person committed all the crimes.

"This is one of those crimes that ranks up there with some of the worst things," Nocco said. "This is the low of the low when you're breaking into a church."

The churches are mostly in Dade City and Zephyrhills and a surveillance camera at Temple Baptist in Dade City recorded the thief searching the building.

Ken Woodard, the pastor at Temple Baptist, said he was stunned by the lengths the criminal went to come away with pocket change.

"Ten dollars. That's it," Woodard said. "The person is risking a lot for a little and actually is doing more damage to the churches than he's getting from this."

There were still footprints on the floor of Woodard's church, underneath the window where the thief entered.

It was a similar scene at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Zephyrhills: a footprint on a window ledge and a pastor, Todd Shouse, who couldn't believe what happened.

"It is sad. It is shocking. But it's more of a commentary on society, the way it's going today," Shouse said, adding he may install a security system, which the sheriff recommended all churches consider. "It is a wake-up call that we need to protect, as we call it, God's house here."

Anyone who recognizes the man in the surveillance video or has any information is asked to call the sheriff's office or Crime Stoppers.