Grace Lutheran plans to upgrade security after break-in

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 29, 2011

By Nathan Hardin
Grace Lutheran Church Pastor Jeremy Cloninger is upping security after a thief kicked in the back door of the church Monday night or early Tuesday morning.
A Rowan County Sheriff’s Office report said the thief took a laptop, wireless microphone and more than $100 in cash. The report totaled $2,000 in stolen property.
“We’re upgrading a little bit on that,” Cloninger said.
The burglar kicked in several office doors, including the back door leading into a fellowship hall.
Cloninger said steel doors will be one of the new security measures he plans to implement at 3020 Grace Church Road. He said church members have not yet organized efforts to increase a watch over the church’s premises.
“We haven’t devised any plans yet,” he said. “We’ve asked that the Sheriff’s Office beef up patrols.”
Church member Brian Atwell said the church had a similar incident three years ago when a group of kids broke into the same entrance and stole a radio and soft drinks. He said he didn’t think the church contacted authorities.
Cloninger said churches may be at risk because members aren’t used to burglaries in those locations.
“It’s an easy target because most churches don’t have a security system,” he said. “And with a rural congregation, most people don’t think about it. I know I didn’t think about it. That may be the reason why we’re seeing more of an increase in that.”
Sheriff Kevin Auten said there may be a slight rise in church-related burglaries, but that the rise hasn’t been significant.
“I don’t know that it’s an alarming rate,” Auten said. “I don’t know that it’s a big increase.”
Auten said the increase in copper larceny is much greater, but that percentages in church burglaries “can be deceiving.”
A Rowan County Sheriff’s Office investigation is under way.
Contact Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.