MANTECA, Calif. (KTXL) – Thieves were caught on surveillance video stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of band equipment and electronics from a Manteca church.
The video shows the thieves stealing guitars right off the wall of the band room at Crossroads Grace Community Church. They then grab eight iPads before running out a side door — in and out in less than a minute.
“It’s just this eerie feeling of watching your stuff being taken from a room that’s supposed to be a safe place,” said Crossroads Grace Lead Pastor Brian Hunt.
Hunt told FOX40 that the theft was especially disheartening because among the items stolen was the prized guitar the congregation gifted to their worship pastor for his 20-year anniversary.
“We took the time to have people that he had invested in, either in developing them as musicians or as people or mentoring, we kind of centered around,” Hunt explained. “People came and signed it and this is really cool, you know. Even his kids signed it on the backside, and so it just held this really important meaning.”
After the break-in, Hunt posted the video to social media calling for help identifying the suspects and the community responded.
“Social media did its thing,” Hunt said. “We kind of had this spider web of love that kind of came around to be able to find the people that took the items.”
The video was shared more than a thousand times and just a few days later all three guitars were returned.
“She came up with a bicycle with all the guitars in the bag and came up to our security guard and spoke really briefly and apologized and gave it to our security, and then just left,” Hunt recalled.
Hunt said he believes the woman had snuck into the church the day before during a funeral to case the building before returning the next day to rob it.
“I would love to let her know that that we all make mistakes and we all are broken, and we all have things that we wish we could do over again,” Hunt said. “I’d love to talk with her and just to let her know she’s loved, too.”
Hunt said, while he’s sad the theft happened, he’s proud of how his congregation and the community responded.
“And so it was really cool to see brothers and sisters being able to help one another, and to be able to say ‘Hey, I hope we can help these people that stole these things, but at the same time, we would love to get that stuff back,'” Hunt said. “So that this church, that is a safe place that we love, can be made whole again.”
Manteca police later arrested the woman and a second suspect and told FOX40 they have identified a third suspect.
Three of the eight stolen iPads were recovered in Ripon, while the others remain missing.