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Queens Chronicle

Richmond Hill church targeted by thieves

Pastor of United Methodist Church believes robbery was ‘inside job’

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Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:18 am, Thu Jul 25, 2013.

When the Rev. Austin Park returned to the United Methodist Church in South Richmond Hill Monday morning, he was shocked by what he found.

Doors and windows were broken, the church’s rooms were trashed and expensive equipment, such as musical instruments, were gone. The 80-year-old church at 112-14 107 Ave. was targeted by thieves overnight, who left behind a trail of destruction and swiped important and expensive materials.

Park said the church shares the space with numerous other groups and another church — a Seventh Day Adventist congregation — and they were the last ones to use the church on Sunday night.

“At some point between 9 p.m. on Sunday and 10 p.m. on Monday, the church was robbed,” he said. “Several people just destroyed a lot of doors including those to the pastor’s office, secretary’s office and choir room and a lot of very expensive items belonging to the Agape Seventh Day Adventist Church, were missing.”

While there are no initial suspects, Park believes the robbers may have been regular attendees of one of the groups who uses the church and may have been in the building Sunday evening.

“The only thing that we could find is that nobody came in from the outside,” Park said. “The way the glass broke on the windows and doors, it looks like they broke them from the inside out.”

The only other clues left behind were a red knife and crowbar, which he said police took as evidence.

Park said the pastor of the SDA church, the Rev. Joshua Deonarine, told police that there was another group meeting in the church building Sunday night. Deonarine could not be reached for comment by press time.

In a post on the SDA church’s Facebook page on Monday, the pastor confirmed the robbery and said the church was an active crime scene, but services would nevertheless continue.

An NYPD spokesman would not comment due to the case being an open investigation.

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