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Raleigh Churches Become Frequent Targets For Burglars

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RALEIGH, N.C. — They are havens for many people, but also increasingly common targets for thieves. The Raleigh Police Department is investigating yet another string of church break-ins.

At Avent Ferry Methodist Church, thieves have burglarized the place five times in less than a year. Despite a tough new law and beefed-up security, police say that holy places are becoming just another target for thieves.

The Rev. Amus Clark showed WRAL a cabinet where thieves stole $75 in Sunday School money from the College View Church of God.

"We've been here 10 years, and we never thought about having to get a security system or deadlock, because I never thought someone would break into a church," said Clark.

But now, the days of blind trust are over. The latest round of break-ins is forcing church leaders to think more like detectives. It's a violation of trust they can forgive, but they can't afford to forget. Clark now walks through the church every night to make sure thieves haven't paid a visit.

"Makes us more cautious and more leery of someone coming in, because you never know if they are checking something out to see what they can get from you," said Clark.

Just down the road, the Avent Ferry United Methodist Church is beefing up security -- and for good reason.

"We've had break-ins five times in the last year, and it's sad to see God's holy temple violated," said the Rev. Won Namkoong.

Police say the break-ins prove thieves don't care from whom and from where they steal.

"They can be broken into just as any other place can be broken into," said Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue. "When we have had three break-ins, there's certainly the possibility that others could occur until we arrest a suspect in these cases."

Police arrested a man believed to be responsible for the first wave of church break-ins in the area, but it appears someone else is picking up where he left off.

There's a new law that makes breaking into a place of worship a felony punishable by up to 10 months behind bars. It may be too soon to tell if it's working.


Paul LaGrone, Reporter
Nathan Monroe, Photographer
Dana Franks, Web Editor

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