CHARLOTTE, NC -- It’s listed in the Ten Commandments, “thou shall not steal.” But not even the cross sitting above of the Cosmopolitan Community Church in North West Charlotte has kept thieves away.
The church, located on Newland Road in Charlotte’s Lincoln Heights neighborhood, has been robbed six times in the last month. The church’s pastor, Irma Garden says thieves broke in through several of the church’s windows. They’ve since been boarded up in an attempt to keep people out, but Garden says even that hasn’t helped.
“They kicked this one in at least 3 times,” she said pointing to a window covered by a board and a newly hung gate.
Garden says over the last month, thieves were able to steal three computers, a television used by the church to offer free movie nights to the neighborhood kids, food to feed the homeless and Christmas gifts that had been collected for homeless children they serve. Garden says they even took the clock on the wall, plastic utensils and cleaning supplies.
“Even on the sixth time, I don’t even know what to come back looking for they had taken everything,” said Garden.
Garden says the church feeds the homeless every 4th Saturday. “This year we were wanting to give out turkeys and all the fixings that go with it so we’re in a dilemma right now, where people stole all our food,” she said.
Garden says not only are they now in need of food donations, but the thieves got away with toys that were being collected for the church’s homeless families.
“At Christmas time I think there are about 45 homeless families that we had last year, and we had begun to buy gifts for them, so they went through all the gifts and they took what they wanted,” she said.
Despite being robbed, Pastor Gardner says nothing could steal her faith. She says not only does she forgive those who have trespassed against the church, but she says she’ll be there with open arms, extending an olive branch, should the robbers come forward and ask for help.
“I can’t help but believe if you come back to a place six times you need help. It’s a problem. And if they would have come to us we would have fed them,” she said.
So far, CMPD says they have not made any arrests in connection to these robberies. They ask anyone with information to call the anonymous Crime Stoppers hotline at (704) 334-1600.
Pastor Gardner says the church cannot afford surveillance equipment. She says in terms of replacing the items that were stolen, they’ll be relying on the community now more than ever.
“Even though we’re going through this right now, God is still in control and we know that God will prevail in his time,” said Garden.
Anyone looking to help the church can reach them directly at 704-572-0702.