Theft crimes at 4 churches charged against Shelbyville couple

The incidence of arrests of persons for stealing property is high in Tennessee. It seems lately that even churches and public buildings are vulnerable. When such arrests are made, the police must have solid evidence to prevail in a prosecution. Speculation about the identity of the perpetrators is not enough.

Recently, the Shelbyville Police arrested a married couple in their home on charges of stealing property from four churches and one home. Whether the police have an ironclad case, however, remains to be seen. They report having followed footprints and tracks that led from a small dolly or cart to the couple's home on Woodbury Street. They arrested the couple for alleged burglary and theft in stealing thousands of dollars of property from the victims.

On the surface, those facts are sketchy and do not give any idea of whether the police have any direct evidence against the suspects. The authorities were responding to what appears to be an unrelated car burglary near the Victory Celebration Revival Church. Although the reports are unclear, the authorities apparently observed the alleged footprints and tracks in or around the vicinity of the church. Whether by coincidence or not, the Victory Celebration Church is listed as one of the four places of worship that were burglarized.

Defense counsel will investigate the alleged burglaries and will seek to identify the items reported stolen from each victim. It will be critical to determine whether a good part of the stolen items was found in the suspects' possession. If not, the case could be weak for the prosecution. Under Tennessee law, the entries to the churches with the intent to commit a theft inside would qualify as a burglary, which is a felony that can carry a stiff sentence of imprisonment. Generally, if negotiations are pursued, the prosecution may agree to drop the theft crimes in return for a plea to the burglary crimes, or vice versa.

Source:, "Police arrest Shelbyville couple accused of 4 church thefts", Chuck Morris, March 21, 2018

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