ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. ( -- Overland Police are investigating after the same thief broke into a church three weekends in a row. Police credit a K9 for finally tracking down the suspect hiding inside the church. 

Police were called to West Overland Bible Church Saturday around 7 p.m. for an alarm. Police said the security system alerted someone with the church that an intruder was inside. 

Officer Chris Fanning said he brought his police canine, Tzar, a 4-year-old German Shepard, with him to the church. 

“We’re probably in there 20, 25 minutes. Can’t find nobody. We’re on our way out the building. There’s three or four of us, we’re making our way towards the exit and all of a sudden the dog just yanks me over to the main portion of the church where there’s a stage, alter, pews," said Fanning. 

Fanning said Tzar stopped at the stage and officers discovered what he described as a false floor. 

“He’s spinning, he’s barking, you could tell he was just trying to narrow down where he’s at," said Fanning. “We had no idea. Who is gonna look under a false floor?”

Officers said they found Aaron Coffey hiding in the corner underneath the stage. 

“The dog went in, he apprehended the suspect. It was in the shoulder region. From that point I had to climb in, which was a tight fit," said Fanning.

The pastor said he and his wife feel violated and are wondering why their church was targeted three times in row. Neither recognize Coffey. 

Police said Coffey also broke in on December 29th and January 4th. Investigators said he stole sound equipment, money, and food. 

“Hopefully from here on out he stays out of Overland and changes his life around hopefully," said Fanning. 

The pastor said between items that were stolen and the damage, the church lost about $4,500.

Police told  News 4 Coffey admitted to the crimes and they've been able to recover the majority of the stolen items. 

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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