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Arrests Near for Cemetery Vandals but Church Burglar Still Loose

Dayton Police are close to making arrests in the July vandalism of St. Francis Cemetery, Chief Scott O'Brien said Tuesday.

Community members who worked on restoring and preserving the historic cemetery released surveillance photos of what appears to be groups of young people congregating at the site. The desecration of a flag and other property damage was left behind.

"We're ready to file some charges," O'Brien said during Tuesday's city council meeting. "Because it's an open investigation there's not a whole lot more I can say about it."

O'Brien applauded his department for its recent arrest of a serial bank robber who had been hiding out in Dayton.

Meanwhile, a church burglar is still on the loose.

A member of the First Presbyterian Church said the copper downspouts were taken two weeks ago. The burglar apparently started the job on one day and returned to finish it on another.

"It's getting pretty bad if they want to go after a church," the church member said. First Presbyterian is a small church with only a couple dozen people attending services, making it difficult to find funds to deal with criminal vandalism, the member said. 

"We are working the case," O'Brien said. The department is working with an online resource that tracks scrap metal. "One thing I will point out is in the course of the investigation, we interviewed neighbors. One said they heard glass breaking around 9:30 but didn't call 911. It's very important that everyone understands, please call 911. It helps us to be able to respond and to be able to get there quickly and possible catch people."

There were no fingerprints left behind at the scene, adding to the investigation's difficulty, O'Brien said.

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Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News