Pastor praying for 3 men who stole from his church; officials searching for suspects

Thieves steal from Brandon church

BRANDON Fla. (WFLA) – Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office detectives are trying to track down three men who drove up to a Brandon church early Monday morning and stole as much as their SUV could hold.

It happened around 3:30 am at New Hope United Methodist Church off Knights Road.

The three unknown suspects backed up behind the church’s office in a Jeep Grand Cherokee 4 x 4 SUV. The vehicle has a light color over dark.

The suspects removed a wheelbarrow full of lawn equipment, a plastic box of assorted power tools, other tools, golf clubs and a water purifying system. The church’s pastor, Jamie Westlake, said he is praying for the people who preyed on his church.

“I’m gonna encourage our folks to pray for these people,” Westlake said.

Westlake said the church has been the target of criminals many times in the past. That’s why Westlake invested in an elaborate surveillance system with more than 64 cameras. He plans to add 16 more.

“We’d never like to waste any of the money we have so when there’s a break-in, even though this it’s a thousand dollars worth of equipment, it still has to be replaced,” Westlake said.

The suspects are described as:

  • White male, 6′, shaved head, 30 – 40 years of age
  • White male, 5’10”, bald, 30 – 40 years of age
  • White male, 5’8″, dark complexion, 30 – 40 years of age

If you have information about the suspects or the incident, call the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office at 247-8200 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477). You can also go to If you report through Crime Stoppers, you can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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