Churches in northwest Houston community say they are being targeted by thieves
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Churches in the northwest Houston community of Oak Forest say they are being targeted by thieves.
Saint Stephen's United Methodist Church says it has had several cars in its parking lot broken into in the middle of the day. Another church reports stolen musical instruments. According to Houston police, officers were at another church three times last month because of burglary alarms.
The St. Stephen's pastor says the recent crime has had an effect on the members.
"I think there has just been a general sense of anxiety, of people being a little a little more reluctant to get out at night," Pastor Kevin Otto said.
Otto remembers the days when churches would leave their doors unlocked, but those days are long gone for them. They've recently taken additional security precautions because, over the last six weeks, three cars were broken into in their church parking lot. It happened in the middle of the day while folks were walking in and out of the building.
"It's unusual," church usher Ky Putnam said. "In my time, that wasn't happening. Now that does happen."
Apparently, the thieves aren't just preying on church members in one parking lot.
"My son lives a few blocks away. He got broken into, stereo out of his car," neighbor Jack Hunt said.
Hunt lives nearby and is now working with law enforcement and his neighbors to drive out crime.
"I actually walk the area quite a bit, watch out for cars while we're here," Hunt said.
Hunt says a transitioning neighborhood may be to blame for the bump in crime. Regardless, they're taking swift action to reclaim their church as a place where you can feel safe and as a place thieves don't return.
"This is material stuff," Otto said. "That which matters can't be taken from us."
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