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Police: Teens ransacked Magna Catholic church — twice

Published December 4, 2013 12:31 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

They entered through the priest's home.

Three teenagers — whose path through the Magna church was littered with kicked-in doors, shattered glass, broken candles, missing objects and drops of blood — have been identified by police as those responsible for two break-ins at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church nearly four months ago.

One of the three — a 16-year-old boy from Magna — was charged last week in 3rd District Court with three first-degree felonies in the case: burglary, criminal mischief and theft.

He and two other teenage boys aged 14 to 16 broke into the church, 2864 S. 9000 West, through the priest's home while the clergyman was out of town, according to court documents. First in the evening of Aug. 25. Then again early the next morning about 3 a.m.

They ransacked the church, destroying statues of saints and knocking over candles, the documents state. They stole a 32-inch television, two gold cups, a golden jewelry, a crucifix, money, wine and food. They left open draws and soda cans strewn across the floor.

One boy shattered a mirror with his fist, the documents say, leaving a trail of blood in his wake.

Police estimate the teens caused more than $12,700 in damage and stole more than $5,600 of the church's property.

The incident was first reported when a parishioner entered the church to find the place in a state of disarray.

He told investigators someone had "emptied a fire extinguisher, trashed the kitchen area, broken all the glass-framed pictures, glass interior doors, computers, candles; items were ransacked on the floor, and several church statues were broken."

He had seen two "skinny males" walk past his house the night before. They were shirtless, he said, and carrying a dark briefcase and flat-screen TV. He suspected the juveniles might be responsible for the mess inside the church.

The church did not have surveillance cameras.

One suspect, a boy who has not yet been charged, left his cellphone behind at the scene. When police tracked him down, the documents state, he agreed to answer their questions.

The 16-year-old who was charged allegedly tried to pawn several of the stolen items, including the gold chain and crucifix.

"They also bragged about breaking into that same church previously to get wine," charging documents state.

The accused teen has been to juvenile court on previous charges of disorderly conduct and criminal mischief in 2012 and retail theft in 2011, according to court documents.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said prosecutors are pursuing criminal charges against the two other teens allegedly involved in the burglary.

He said it took several months for detectives to track down leads in the case and determine exactly which teens were culpable.

Since the incident, the community has rallied behind the church, offering donations to help restore it.


Twitter: @Marissa_Jae —

Magna church vandalized before

O The two August break-ins were not the first time Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Magna has been vandalized. On Sept. 30, 2010, someone swiped a beloved terra-cotta statue of St. Francis of Assisi from the church grounds, along with several planters.




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