Suspect wearing Batman mask accused of stealing thousands of dollars in church equipment

Suspect may have hit other churches

CULLMAN, Ala. (WBRC) - A multi-state search is underway for a man accused of stealing thousands of dollars of equipment from churches while wearing a Batman mask.

The latest target is Grace Chapel Church in Cullman. Police believe the burglary happened between January 5 and January 7.

Grace Chapel Church hasn’t been in its location on Main Ave. SW very long, but it’s already there the target of criminals. Police say someone smashed their way in snatching $16,000 worth of equipment. That figure includes property damage.

The Cullman Police Department detectives say someone used a large rock to smash their way into the church. It’s reported the suspect got away with a guitar, keyboard and computer equipment.

“It’s a crime of opportunity. You know, churches, it’s sacred ground but a lot of criminals they don’t really care,” said Cullman Police Detective Sgt. Charles Shikle.

The same style burglary has also recently happened multiple times at churches in Irondale, Jasper, Georgia and Tennessee, according to Irondale police, who say they believe the person wearing a Batman mask is responsible for all of them.

Irondale PD Sgt. Michael Mangina says Kings Way Church on Crescent Road was robbed a second time around the same time Grace Chapel Church was burglarized.

Kings Way was first hit in December. In both crimes the suspect used a rock to get into the church to steal musical equipment.

"We think it’s a big black male, wearing dark clothes and the Batman mask,” Sgt. Mangina said. "We think the car that he’s driving is a light colored Hyundai.”

Though Shikle says there’s not enough evidence to know 100% that the crimes are connected, he does have advice on how other churches can avoid being targeted.

“Make sure that you have enough illumination. Criminals do not like light. If this parking lot was illuminated and they had lights completely down this side of the parking lot that shown back onto these buildings and it eliminated the shadow spaces it really does limit the criminals opportunity to work they like working in the dark,” he said.

We’re told the Grace Chapel Church does have cameras but because they just moved in they weren’t functioning at the time of the burglary.

If you have any information, please call Cullman Police at 256-734-1434.

Copyright 2020 WBRC. All rights reserved.