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Deputies arrest two in church burglaries

Sheriff’s deputies have arrested a Greenville man as the suspect in a series of church burglaries that took place last week in Butler County.

Deputies have charged Nichols Welch, 18, and a 16-year-old juvenile in connection with the crimes, said Sheriff Kenny Harden.

Harden said late Friday afternoon his office received an anonymous tip that an electric bass guitar stolen from Shiloh Baptist Church had been pawned by Welch at Budget Smart in Greenville. Harden said deputies picked up both Welch and the juvenile for questioning and they confessed to the burglary at Shiloh as well as other burglaries at Antioch West Baptist, Brushy Creek Baptist, Mt. Olive East Baptist, Spring Hill Baptist, and Ebenezer East Baptist.

Aside from the guitar, Harden said the suspects also stole a speaker from Shiloh Baptist and some cash from the other churches. He said the suspects took a safe from Ebenezer East and battered it open, but it held only church records. All items except the money were recovered, he said.

The bass guitar was valued at $1100, said Harden, and was pawned for $65.

Harden said the suspects executed their crimes simply, breaking a window to gain access and then exiting out the front door.

Two of the burglaries took place between Sunday, May 30 and Monday, May 31. The other four burglaries were reported on Wednesday, June 2.