Montevallo church battling string of robberies

Members of a Montevallo church have been forced to transform their small worship center into something resembling a fortress following a string of burglaries and vandalism over the past few years.

The Ryan Baptist Church, which lies off Shelby County 17 between Montevallo and Maylene, has seen several thefts of everything from microwaves to speakers recently, said church member Diane Stapp, wife of church Pastor Charles Stapp.

“Last year, they broke out our stained-glass windows, and we had to put burglar bars up,” Stapp said. “We have had the copper stolen out of our air conditioner, and we had to replace that.

“It’s just general vandalism and theft,” she added. “It’s been going on for the past couple of years.”

Church members recently discovered someone had dumped a load of garbage, including used appliances, on the church grounds.

Ryan Baptist Church, which was built in 1934, has about 25 members and is in an isolated location in western Shelby County.

Over the past several months, burglars have destroyed stained-glass windows, kicked in a wheelchair door, destroyed an air conditioner, stolen musical equipment and committed several other criminal acts, Stapp said.

Due to the incidents, Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies have stepped up patrols around the church.

“(Deputies) have been riding by the church a lot, but the church is really out of the way,” Stapp said. “It’s off by itself, so I guess that’s why it’s been such a target.”

Anyone with information regarding the incidents at the church is encouraged to call the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office at 669-4181.