Thief hits East Ridge church during Sunday service - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Thief hits East Ridge church during Sunday service

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EAST RIDGE, TN. (WRCB) -- A local pastor says if a bicycle and any other items taken from his church are returned, no criminal charges will be filed.

He contacted Channel 3 to get the word out, after a brazen thief walked into the church during Sunday morning service and left with a member's ride.

"The bike was right there," says Jeff Crim, Senior Pastor at Ascension Lutheran Church.

Pastor Jeff Crim says a bold thief paid a visit to his East Ridge church, while the congregation gathered for weekly worship.

"Sunday morning, we were doing our regular thing here," he says. "We were having Sunday school."

"When we came out of the church it was gone," says Pastor Crim.

Crim says the bicycle pictured to the right is similar to the one that was taken.

"We spent about 30 minutes running around, asking who had moved it, when it occurred to us it really must have been stolen," Crim says.

He's still working to take an inventory to determine if anything else is missing.

Crim has filed a police report, but says he doesn't want to prosecute or punish the thief.

He's willing to drop all charges if the bike is returned.

He says his church has never turned anyone in need away, and it won't start now.

"This congregation has a reputation and a long history of being very generous and very giving," the pastor says. "This isn't going to change that."

Crim says a church member stepped in to loan another bike to the owner, who uses it to get to and from church.

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