Who keeps vandalizing all of the churches in Ririe and why are they doing it?
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RIRIE — Windows, paintballs and rocks are becoming objects that local church leaders are dealing with after consistently finding their houses of worship vandalized.
Vandalism has happened at all three churches in the Ririe area with the most recent incident occurring earlier this month at the non-denominational Ririe Chapel on Main Street. For members, it wasn’t their first incident.
“A rock was thrown through one of our smaller windows on the front side of our church,” Pastor James Peterson told EastIdahoNews.com.
Peterson said it’s difficult to continually fund the repairs of broken windows.
The first incident happened last October when it appeared a rock was thrown through the church’s big front window. Both of the window panes were shattered and the sanctuary was filled with glass shards, Peterson said.
“We actually got that window replaced and then a week later they broke that window again,” Peterson said.
The church’s director, Lori Newton, said security cameras were installed after the first two vandalisms.
“I have a hard time wrapping my head around why anyone would vandalize churches or anyone’s property, for that matter,” Newton said.
During the most recent incident, she said surveillance footage showed three figures with one throwing something at the church. It happened around 1 a.m. on June 14 and Peterson said the vandals appeared to be high school age.
“I don’t think I could speculate as to their motives, unfortunately. I would hope that it could stop because the community of Ririe is a very unique, special community and it deserves respect from all its generations, both young and old,” Peterson said.
Boyd Foster, a local leader with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, has dealt with vandalism at the two Mormon churches for over two years.
“Windows in a church are very expensive because they’re not just a standard window. I’m sure that we’ve had damages amongst all the churches in excess of 10 or 15 thousand dollars,” Foster said. “It’s unnecessary.”
Newton said the funds for window replacements have been coming out of the church’s budget.
“We are working to make our little chapel handicap accessible but with this having to be budgeted, that project will never see the light of day,” Newton said.
Foster said the community has worked to be more vigilant in watching out for properties and seeking who may be responsible.
“There’s a great relationship amongst the different denominations in the Ririe area…Ultimately, we would just like to find out who it is and resolve the issues that exist so that we can stop this from happening in the future,” Foster said. “We need to try to work together to resolve those issues and develop more Christ-like love amongst the people in the community.”
The incidents have been reported to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and detectives are working on investigating the cases.