Burglars target 3 rural churches in Yankton County

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Yankton County, S.D. - It's a first that's shocked church goers in Yankton County.
Over the course of one week three rural churches were targeted in separate burglaries.
The break-ins aren't just shocking for worshipers near Menno, Lesterville, and Irene they're also heartbreaking.

"Not describable. You just can’t imagine why anybody would do it," St. Agnes of Sigel member Catherine Hunhoff said.

Hunhoff has been a part of the congregation since 1952.
She's here almost every day.

"It's second home. That's about what it is," Hunhoff stated.

She's the church caretaker.

"You come here it's peaceful. You don't have all this, you know," she explained.

But that peace was disturbed by a recent break-in.

"They broke this door down," Father Steven Jones pointed out.

The church was ransacked.

"Here are our cabinets where we keep our liturgical items, and they went through these cabinets, and basically emptied them," Jones explained.

This is a picture that was taken before the incident. Now the High Alter is bare, most of the century old heirlooms stolen.

"These blank areas here, that's where our candle sticks were, here's where our alter cross normally is, and then more candle sticks here," Jones said.

The church was built in the late 1800's.
Many members' families have been part of the congregation for generations.

"It's not so much the financial damage, it's the emotional damage, you know? Because you think about the people in this church who prayed and worshiped god with these items that were donated by their grandparents, great grandparents and so forth," Jones said.

Even so, the congregation is praying for the suspects.

"Whoever did it, I hope their conscience makes them realize what they have done to the people of Sigel parish," Hunhoff said.

Father Jones says the St. Anges of Sigel Catholic Church is now investing in a security system to prevent future burglaries.

The other burglarized churches were The Stone Church near Menno and Our Redeemer Lutheran Church near Irene.

The Yankton County Sheriff is still investigating and asks for anyone with information about the crimes to call his office at 668-3567.