Man accused of stealing money from church

William Henry Tompkins, courtesy of Surfside Police

William Henry Tompkins, 25, of Surfside Beach , is charged with larceny after police said he stole money from a festival at Surfside Beach United Methodist Church.

Surfside Beach police did not disclose the amount of money taken or the name of the church it was taken from. We have requested that information.

Police did say in a news release that Tompkins grabbed a cash box from a table at the festival being held at the church Friday afternoon and left on a moped.

Police canvassed neighborhoods nearby where mopeds were parked and observed a man leaving through an apartment backdoor. They concentrated their investigation on that apartment and obtained a search warrant.

Inside the apartment, they say they found a moped hidden in a walk-in closet as well as a jacket that fit the description given by witnesses.

Police attempted to contact the suspect on his cell phone, and late Saturday night Tompkins agreed to turn himself in.

Tompkins met officers Sunday morning and was arrested. Police say the stolen cashbox had been dumped inside a gated resort near Surfside Beach. Officers recovered the box and returned it to the victim, although most of the cash had been removed.

SBPD Chief of Police Mike Frederick said that investigators have reason to believe that the theft was drug-related. "We do our best to prevent crimes like these, but we can't be everywhere," Frederick said. "Sometimes the best we can do is give it our all to catch the suspect after the fact, and the guys did fantastic work over the entire weekend to chase this guy down and arrest him."

Frederick added that the effort officers exerted in this case sends a clear message.

"It tells the citizens of this town that our guys take these things personally, and it should tell the folks who would come here to steal that even if you get away that day, we will come after you."