August 20, 2016

Dutch Adventist Leader Welcomes Burglars to Church — During Opening Hours

Trans-European Division

The leader of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Netherlands has issued a message of forgiveness after an overnight burglary attempt at the church’s headquarters was foiled by an effective alarm system and a rapid police response.

Two male suspects were detained at the church’s headquarters in the central Dutch town of Huis Ter Heide in the early hours of Friday, Aug. 19, after the building’s alarm system was tripped, said Wim Altink, president of the Netherlands Union Conference.

The suspects initially hid in the attic, but the police located them using thermal imaging, Altink said. However, when they tried to flee, they fell through the ceiling and got stuck between two walls. Firefighters were called in to rescue them, while a police helicopter circled overhead to prevent any further escape attempts.

“Let the authorities know that we have forgiven the perpetrators and prayed for them,” Altink said in the statement on the church’s website.

Staff who arrived for work on Friday morning were grateful that nothing was stolen but were saddened by the considerable damage caused to the historic, federally protected building. Altink arrived at the scene around 5 a.m. and reported that a wall had to be broken down to free and then detain the two men. The ceiling was also damaged in their attempted escape.

It was not immediately clear how much jail time the suspects might face if charged and convicted of attempted burglary.

But Altink said he would be happy to see them in an Adventist church one day.

“They are welcome to attend a service in one of the churches provided they promise to use the front door during opening hours,” he said.