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Police closer to solving string of church burglaries in Albert Lea

Police say surveillance footage played a big role in identifying the suspect they took into custody.

Posted: Sep 17, 2018 10:17 PM

ALBERT LEA, Minn. - Since the beginning of this year, there's been nine burglaries at area churches in Albert Lea.

Kavin Whelan, 64, is now in custody after the most recent break in happened at Grace Lutheran Church happened over the weekend.

Police tell KIMT he could be a potential suspect in several of the church burglaries the city has seen, due to the circumstances of the burglaries and what was taken.

Usually a church is a place where many come to confess their sins. Lately, its been a place for some to commit them.

"We're called to be the church and be out in our community and helping our neighbors," Pastor Jennifer Gonsalves, of Grace Lutheran Church, said. "We aren't gonna let situations like this get in the way of us doing ministry and serving our neighbors and helping people who need help."

Police say surveillance footage from Grace Lutheran played a huge role in identifying Whelan.

Scott Truesdell is the owner of Total Security. He said burglaries are happening everywhere, not just at churches.

He believes the right security equipment could make the difference in not only catching culprits, but preventing crimes from happening.

"Those signs and stickers are our first line of defense," Truesdell said. "We're telling those crooks there's alarm systems, there's camera systems here, there's security here of some form so stay away."

It's creating a sense of fear in criminals, to take it away from victims.

"My advice is to not let fear get in the way of serving our neighbor," Gonsalves said.

Gonsalves said those at the church are relieved there's a suspect in custody, and now want to move forward.

Police are reminding people that if they see something suspicious, they should report it.

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