Church Members Taken Advantage Of; Vehicles Stolen
ANCHORAGE - As members of Saint John UMC on O’Malley Road collected their coats after the 9:30 service last Sunday morning, Robert Hays was getting frustrated.
“Ruffling around for a while looking through all the coats... still couldn't find it, got annoyed,” said Hayes.
The father of two assumed someone picked up his coat by accident -- but it wasn't the only thing Hays was missing.
"I knew right where I parked and it just was not there; I parked right next to my dad's car and his was there and mine wasn't,” said Hays.
While people were worshiping, police say someone walked into the church foyer and took Hays' coat, keys and his blue 2006 Chevy pickup.
"I've worked in seedier sections of town and I'd expect something like that to happen there, not here not at church,” he said.
Reverend Peter Perry says church members feel violated.
“This was a special day too, it was our anniversary Sunday,” said Perry.
“50 years of ministry and to have this sort of spoil the party is a sad thing,” he said.
“This is supposed to be sacred time, sacred space, we don’t anticipate these kinds of things happening."
Hays says a church member later reported seeing a suspicious man walking around during the morning service.
"They saw the person who might have did it help himself to a piece of anniversary cake while he was leaving,” said Hays.
Hays is not the only recent victim of theft.
The previous Sunday at All Saints on 8th Avenue, church member Susan Abbott had her 2009 Toyota Yaris stolen by someone using the same technique.
"We were really shocked because this happened while we were in Sunday school,” said head pastor Jim Basinger.
Abbott says her car was locked and she felt awful at the thought of someone walking into the church, stealing her coat and keys and driving off with her car.
Troopers found Abbott’s car in Bodenburg Creek in Palmer. Abbott says the engine was partially submerged and the car is a write-off.
Abbott says her car was towed back to Anchorage and she was able to retrieve her snow tires out of the trunk along with other personal items.
Her insurance has settled and she bought herself a new car.
Meanwhile, Robert Hays is waiting for his truck to be found.
“My fear is that somebody has taken it and chopped it up into a bunch of pieces and sold it for parts,” said Hays.