Burglary Suspect Caught in Cleveland; Pastor Teaches Lesson

Reported by: Alisha Searl
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Updated: 4/16 4:13 pm
CLEVELAND, TN (WDEF) - A shirtless man, who Cleveland Police identify as Preston Custer, can be seen prowling around a classroom at Bowman Hills Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

Terri Robinson, a resident, says, "You're stealing from kids, that's pretty low."

Cleveland Police say Custer ransacked the place, taking computers and causing more than $10,000 worth of damage.

Dwight Herod, a Senior Pastor at Bowman Hills Seventh-Day Adventist Church, adds, "The perpetrator kept walking by just as plain as can be. If he would have smiled it would have been a real nice picture."

Almost crystal clear surveillance photographs and blood found on a cracked stain glass window led officers to Custer.

Herod adds, "Within an hour or so, they had the perpetrator's name, address and so forth. He was arrested."

Most of the church's belonging were recovered.

However, their to-do list is a long one.

Herod says, "There was some damage in the church, some rooms where he had broken into, so there are quite a few repairs we're going to make here, plus our stained glass window was broken and that will be costly to replace."

Now, church leaders have words of wisdom for other congregations.

Herod adds, "We're going to be more cautious. Also, my advice to my pastor friends out there. I've backed up my data on my computer in case of a crash, never thought about a theft. So, I'd say make sure your data is backed up."

Some residents feel that Custer's charges should now be upgraded because of the crime.

Karen Frankfort adds, "It's almost like a hate crime type of thing. I don't know if that was his intention, but I feel like maybe there should be an increased penalty for that."

Custer was also charged with 12 separate vehicle burglaries.

His bond is set at $70,000.
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