Man suspected of stealing from churches arrested - FOX Carolina 21

Man suspected of stealing from churches arrested, police looking at more suspects

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A suspect in a string of church burglaries in Lumpkin and Dawson counties is behind bars. Skylar Michaelsen, 20, was arrested Friday night after leading police on two car chases and trying to escape into a wooded area.

Police say Michaelsen showed up at the location of a sting operation designed to snare a thief who was selling stolen sound equipment from a local church.

"For whatever reason when he pulled into the parking lot, things didn't feel like the way he wanted them to feel and he left," said Captain Tony Wooten of the Dawson County Sheriff's Office.

That started the first chase of the evening. The Dawson County Sheriff's Office lost Michaelsen in the rainstorm they believe was part of the reason he bailed on the exchange.

But detectives weren't done yet. After obtaining the number to his cell phone, they began tracking his movements by pinging its location.

Michaelsen eventually came back to Dawson County and deputies once again tried to stop him. The resulting car chase ended when Michaelsen crashed his car and fled on foot into a wooded area.

According to Wooten, Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard called Michaelsen's phone and convinced the young man to turn himself in.

Jarrard is a member of one of the churches that have been burglarized.

"I had constantly asked for prayer for the person to either get convicted or to get caught. And even today I still ask for prayer for him to get conviction and hopefully can turn his life around," said Jarrard.

In May, several churches in Lumpkin, Dawson, and Pickens counties were burglarized. Investigators say cash and equipment were taken.

Recently, a member of one of those churches was browsing on and recognized sound equipment he believed was stolen.

The seller was contacted and a sting was set up by Lumpkin and Dawson counties.

According to Jarrard, Michaelsen has talked to him about at least two of the burglaries. Investigators believe he was not working alone, and are putting together information on other suspects.

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