Homeless man arrested for breaking into Presbyterian church

Months of break-ins at the Vashon Presbyterian Church ended last month when a man who held a key to the church and regularly entered it at night was arrested there.

After the arrest, which happened in the early hours of Feb. 2, the suspect told police he was homeless, had been given the key by a friend and had entered the church to sleep.

Rev. Dan Houston, the church’s minister, said that he and other church members had found evidence of the suspect spending nights there on and off for the last several months, but nothing of value was ever stolen from the building.

“It’s been a pattern of sleeping activity, and it’s unnerved our volunteers and raised real concerns for our safety. ... We’re saddened by the break-in and relieved that any number of our volunteers and building users didn’t encounter this person in a bad circumstance,” he said.

The congregation, he added, is praying for the man and hopes that he and those in his situation are aware of help available through the Interfaith Council to Prevent Homelessness.

Houston said King County Sheriff’s deputies checked on the church many times before the arrest was made. He added that other individuals have been known to spend nights outside the church, and he hopes to take steps to make the property safer.

“We are really grateful for the great detective work, and we’re wanting to be more vigilant in stewarding our property so it’s safe for the whole community,” he said.

Sgt. John Urqhart, spokesman for the King County Sheriff’s Office, said the case has been sent to the King County Prosecutor’s Office with a recommendation of burglary charges. (A burglary charge does not need to entail theft.)

The suspect was released from jail pending charges.

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