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Sheriff's Office Charges Three Suspects in Church Burglaries

"They didn't have a particular denomination that they targeted, anything along those lines. They went with where they could get into," said Deputy First Class, Carly Hose, with the Washington County Sheriff's Office. "They did force entry into some of the churches and then other ones they found unlocked, where it be unlocked windows, unlocked doors and entered through those ways."
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. - The Washington County Sheriff's Office charged three Smithsburg men in connection to a series of church burglaries that happened this past October and November across the county.

Officers report an estimated $8,500 in stolen merchandise.

Police say the investigation started when Michael Hymes wrote a check to himself, using the checkbook from one of the churches.

Hymes is also accused of pawning some of the stolen items.

Detectives say a search of his home turned up stolen electronics, musical instruments and checkbooks.

After a search warrant was executed, two other suspects, Randy Miller and Jeffery Harper, were connected to the case.

The burglaries happened from October 22 to November 15, 2013, hitting eight churches primarily in the eastern portion of the county.

"They didn't have a particular denomination that they targeted, anything along those lines. They went with where they could get into," said Deputy First Class, Carly Hose, with the Washington County Sheriff's Office. "They did force entry into some of the churches and then other ones they found unlocked, where it be unlocked windows, unlocked doors and entered through those ways."

Officers say several churches have requested security assessments since the burglaries.

"It's a difficult, slippery slope for a church because they want to be open, it's a house of worship but at the same point they do need to protect their assets," said Hose.

The State's Attorney Office say the case will go through a preliminary hearing and they're sorry for these churches' loss.

"Unfortunately, at this time of the year in particular, every dollar that a church has to spend on new locks, new windows, new property so they can hold their services is a dollar taken away from their community that they may give out to help the needy," said Brett Wilson, Assistant State's Attorney Office for Washington County.

As of right now, the three suspects combined have 35 charges against them. One of them, Jeffrey Harper, is out on bond, while the other two, Michael Hymes and Randy Miller remain at the Washington County Detention Center.

Officers say this is an ongoing investigation.
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