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Grinches take toys, burn church

Grinches take toys, burn church

Melissa Baker


POSTED December 31, 2009 4:40 p.m.
Two people accused of stealing toys from poor children and setting fire to a church were arrested Tuesday by the Modesto Police Department.
Randy McClain, 39, of Modesto and Melissa Baker, 25, of Hughson were booked on suspicion of arson, burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of stolen property, and parole violations after they allegedly tripped a silent alarm at the New Bethany Church in Modesto.
At 11:44 p.m. Tuesday, Modesto police officers were dispatched to the church at 315 6th St. to investigate a silent burglary alarm. Patrol officers arrived within two minutes and spotted a woman walking away from the church with wrapped Christmas presents in her possession, said Sgt. Brian Findlen. The woman, later identified as Baker, was immediately stopped and detained by one of the responding officers.
A second suspect, McClain, was seen climbing out of one of the church windows moments later. Officers at the scene could see flames inside the church after he climbed out of the window and within moments an explosion occurred inside of the church causing the windows to blow out, Findlen said. McClain was arrested without incident.
The Modesto Fire Department responded to extinguish the fire. The church sustained significant damage as a result of the fire, believed to be deliberately set to cover up evidence of the burglary, Findlen said. The quick response by fire personnel limited the structural damage primarily to a building addition adjacent to the main church sanctuary.
The Christmas gifts taken from the church were intended for children in need and had been individually labeled for distribution to specific children.

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