WILLMAR -- Willmar police are investigating a series of burglaries, including the burglary of Bethel Lutheran Church in downtown Willmar, and are asking the public for any information they may have regarding the crimes.
According to the police, sometime between 9 p.m. Thursday evening and 7 a.m. Friday morning someone entered the church, located at the corner of Becker Avenue and Fourth Street Southwest.
Stolen in the burglary was the entire church safe, a heavy, gray safe about 2½ feet cubed with a dial on the front.
The church's pastors, Meri Thorkelson and Jonathan Dahl, issued a plea Friday for the safe return of the church cemetery records contained in the safe. The 125 years of records are not recorded anywhere else.
Also stolen from the church was cash, including several hundred dollars in coins.
Police ask the public to watch for anyone trying to spend or exchange large amounts of coin. Because the suspects spent considerable time in the building, there is the possibility a passerby may have noticed something unusual during the night.
There are similarities between the church burglary and others reported during the past week. Overnight burglaries along U.S. Highway 12 East were also reported. In those cases, large quantities of tools, food, and clothing were stolen. Due to the amount of product taken, it is believed a large vehicle may be involved.
Anyone seeing suspicious activity, especially with a truck or van involved, during the overnight hours is asked to call 911 immediately.
Anyone with information about this or other crimes is urged to call the police department at 320-235-2244 or Crime Stoppers at 320-235-3640.