Local News

Thieves ransack Durham church, steal Christmas gifts

Posted December 21, 2015 6:41 p.m. EST
Updated December 22, 2015 12:58 p.m. EST

— Thieves broke into a Durham church over the weekend, stealing some cash and a pile of gifts collected for local children.

Saint Joseph's Episcopal Church, at 1902 W. Main St., has a congregation of 40 people that is grounded in hospitality and love, according to church leaders. Better known around Durham as the "little church with the big red doors," the grounds – and most doors – are open.

Yet, someone kicked in some locked interior doors at the century-old church on Saturday, ransacked church offices and stole $40 in petty cash, Senior Warden Jonathan Jones said Monday.

Upstairs, in the sanctuary rented by the congregation of Saint Basil the Great Romanian Orthodox Church, the thieves also snatched gifts that had been piled in a closet and intended for children.

"How low can you be to steal gifts that a church was collecting for its children?" Jones said.

Police have no suspects in the case.

Saint Joseph's parishioners feel angry and hurt, he said, noting the thieves could have simply walked into the church instead of breaking in.

"Having your home broken into is a terrible feeling. Having your church broken into to me is even worse because this is not just the place that we live, but it’s the place that we share God with each other, and it's just an incredible violation," he said. "If the person had asked us for help, we would have given them help. But instead, they felt the need to break in and take from us."

Still, Jones said, he feels compassion in his heart this week of Christmas, and he prays forgiveness will come, too.

"I hope that the person who did this realizes how wrong they were and that they're able to find some redemption," he said.

The stolen gifts were valued at more than $1,000, but Saint Joseph's parishioners have collected enough money to replace many of them, he said.