Man arrested in Mesa church break-in - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Man arrested in Mesa church break-in

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Posted: Monday, January 11, 2010 6:32 pm | Updated: 3:35 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

A 22-year-old man who has been arrested five times in the last eight months was caught by a police officer walking out of a broken glass door of a church he admitted to breaking into to see what he could steal, police said.

Andrew Richardson was arrested on suspicion of burglary and criminal damage about 1:21 a.m. Sunday after the officer saw him coming out of the broken door of the Velda Rose United Methodist Church, 5540 E. Main St., with a portable stereo under his coat, according to a police report.

Richardson was caught seconds after the officer received the call about the break-in when a burglar alarm went off as the officer was sitting inside his cruiser at a stop light at Main and 56th streets, according to Marvin Harmsen, director of operations for the church.

“He was right there on the spot,” Harmsen said of the police officer. “We figured it was divine intervention. We have occasional vandalism, and it’s nice to see someone apprehended for a change.”

Richardson, an admitted heroin user who has previous convictions of drug-related offenses, said he thought he would break into the church to see what he could steal and pawn.

Harmsen estimated the damage to the glass inside the broken door was about $250, and it was replaced on Monday.

Harmsen said that in mid-December, someone had broken into another building of the church and stole a stereo.

“Now, we’re all wondering if it was the same individual,” Harmsen said.

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