February 4, 2007
Reported By: Lee Peck
It is a quiet Sunday morning and the parking lot of the Roanoke Church of Brethren is full as members gather for worship. It is one of the last places you would expect a crime.
"The sad thing is people will prey on that and take advantage of that. They know that you are in a place that you feel completely safe, that you feel your possessions are protected just as you would be. And that's not necessarily so," said Church of Brethren Pastor Jim Balmer.
Pastor Balmer says his church is just one of several that have fallen victim to car break-ins in the Jennings/Roanoke area in the past couple of weeks.
"Last Sunday, sometime between 10:30 and 11:30 during our morning worship period, one of our member's cars was broken into. The passengers side front window was broken out and a purse was taken from the seat," Balmer.
Balmer has since warned his congregation as well as neighboring churches to not make themselves vulnerable to crime. "Not only our church, but other churches here in the community, we have warned them that whenever they are gathered together, whether it's for a fellowship or worship service or whatever -- when there's a number of them there they don't want to leave anything on the seats of their vehicles that might be perceived as something of value," said Balmer.
While from the pulpit, he may preach "Thou shall not steal," Pastor Balmer is quick to say we should not judge a thief. "We don't know what's in an individual's heart. We don't know what their circumstances are," said Balmer. "But I would just ask them to realize that what they are doing is not just a crime against men, but a crime against God and his laws also."