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Churches Fight Back After String of Burglaries

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FAYETTEVILLE — Officers of the law and officers of the church are working together to stop burglars in Fayetteville, before they strike again.

Police say a band of thieves have been targeting churches that are isolated and usually empty, and taking what they can -- money, sound systems and other valuables.

"Some of these people have no respect for anything and they'll break into a church as easily as they break into your home or my home," said Kathleen Ruppert with the Fayetteville Police Department.

The New Hope Baptist church was burglarized for the second time Sunday morning.

"Someone came in, kicked the window in, went in and it appears they may have known where the cash was. Went straight to it, took part of it and left," said Jim Crow, a deacon at New Hope Baptist.

Police are now helping churches fight back.

They're asking the houses of worship to become members of a church watch program, in which officers help members engrave their valuables and provide a security survey -- all free of charge.

"It also keeps an extra eye out on the church," said Ruppert. "Our officers are required to make contact with the people that work in the church and it's not just a Sunday only program."

Deacon Lorenzo Watson of the Bible Center Holiness Church said his church joined the watch program after it was robbed three times in less than six months.

"We have engraved items with different IDs and things like that -- one of those things to deter," said Watson. "And hopefully it will deter anyone who would want to take."

Fayetteville police believe the church watch program does exactly that.

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John McDonnell, Reporter
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