String of burglaries targeting Johnson City churches

Police believe they've caught person responsible

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - A burglary spree of local churches has members re-thinking security measures. But News 5 learned, Johnson City Police believe they've caught the person responsible.

Dark clouds are hovering over King Springs Baptist Church, it's one of seven in Johnson City that recently became the target of theft. "They [church members] asked me if I'd seen anything, heard anything that night," said nearby homeowner Jerry McFall.

McFall says this burglary so close to his home is unsettling news, "We kind of watch out for each other up and down through here, but we never dreamed a church would get broken into."

Johnson City Police arrested Jaremy Kazen early Saturday morning. He's charged with eight counts of Burglary, as well as stealing four church vans and stealing from inside the churches. "Some of the church musical instruments, some of the computer equipment, as well as petty cash," said Lieutenant Rick Stevens with the Johnson City Police Department.

Police say the places that were hit span no more than two miles from the Police Department. One was the Legion Street Rec Center, which is right across the street.

Police have suspicions Kazen wasn't working alone. "Right now he is the only one charged and there may be some other arrests forthcoming," added Lieutenant Stevens.

The string of burglaries started occurring between mid-September through mid-October and here's how investigators cracked the case, "When they located Mr. Kazen, they discovered that he was in possession of the keys to one of the vans."

Over at First United Methodist Church, Pastor Tim Bracken says he's now looking for new ways to secure his church and church family.

The stolen vans are back to their rightful owners, which is a big relief for the community. "Well I'm just going to pray they don't break into my house," added McFall.

News 5 learned the churches were simply burglarized, investigators did not find any kind of vandalism.

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