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Police: Stolen church van found with ‘heavy fire damage,’ suspect named
Shannon Dwight Beauford 2018
Shannon Dwight Beauford

A Gainesville man was identified as a suspect Thursday by Gwinnett County Police regarding a Buford church’s stolen van.

Police received tips Saturday regarding Shannon Dwight Beauford, 23, who was seen on surveillance videos Jan. 17 around Salt and Light Presbyterian Church.

The van was found in Hall County with “heavy fire damage” on Jan. 27, and Beauford was incarcerated at the Hall County Jail on separate charges when Gwinnett Police investigators found him Jan. 31, police said.

“The detective assigned to the case traveled to the Hall County Jail and met with Beauford,” Cpl. Michele Pihera wrote in a news release. “Following the interview, the detective secured several warrants.”

Beauford allegedly used a sledgehammer to break into a Buford church Jan. 17 and left with the church’s van, police said.

Police found a black and yellow sledgehammer outside of the door.

Members of the church found a pair of blue jeans and socks that were “frozen solid.” A winter jacket was reported missing from the church.

Beauford has active warrants for burglary, theft by taking motor vehicle, vandalism to a place of worship and possession of tools for the commission of a crime.  

“The detective learned that Beauford was previously involved in another case the night before the burglary,” Pihera wrote in the news release. “Because of that incident, he is also facing an obstruction of a law enforcement officer warrant.”

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office will decide any charges related to the vehicle fire, and Beauford will stay at the Hall County Jail until authorities approve a transfer.

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