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Billings pastor says church vandalism not connected

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Posted at 8:25 PM, Jan 20, 2023

BILLINGS - More vandalism at Billings churches with break-ins at Central Christian Church and the Latter Day Saints Temple.

Earlier this week, vandals damaged Mary Queen Of Peace Catholic Church in south Billings.

Some churches in the area have had some break-ins and the pastor at Central Christian Church, on 16th Street West, south of Grand Avenue, says he doesn't believe they're connected or related.

At least one person broke windows at Central Christian, but didn't take anything.

Pastor Doug Garner says a vandal used a painted rock outside to smash the window, and then reached in to open the door.

Surveillance video captured the person breaking into the church.

"The image is real faint and blurry," said Garner. "So our tech guy is going to try and clean that up a little bit. See if we can find anything that's a little bit more identifiable."

Garner said the video showed the person was short in height.

"Pretty short, pretty slight," Garner said. "Could be female. Could be a kid."

Once in the building, Garner said the person took some keys out of a mailbox, opened an office door and disconnected wires to cameras.

That person then wandered all around the church and even signed up for cookies.

"I watch out 4 you all," Garner read from the paper that was signed "God."

Meantime, not far away, it was a similar scene at the Latter Day Saints temple. The church says someone also broke a window to break inside, but left before doing any further damage.

And on Tuesday vandals broke into Mary Queen of Peace parish on the south side, stealing statues and defacing artwork in the walls of the church.

Garner says he doesn't believe that the incidents were connected or that his church was even specifically targeted.

"They don't seem related to me," Garner said "It just doesn't really follow any kind of good pattern. It doesn't really surprise me though, because we like I said we get hit about once a year."