After a break into the Pender County Christian Services, Inc. building on New Years Day, Executive Director Sandy Harris was saddened to see a damaged back door when she returned to work on Monday.
“When I saw the glass shatter, I knew right away, not yet. Not yet,” said Harris, referring to a similar incident that occurred a few years ago. “It made me sick to my heart. Usually most of the time when this happens they are looking for money or valuables.”
With a goal of helping those in need, the Burgaw-based nonprofit began 2022 with heartache after a safe containing cash and other valuables was stolen from West Fremont Street.
“People give us their money and their donations,” Harris said. “I take it personally because what we do for this county and the people in need is like robbing us all. It doesn’t have to be. We are here to serve the people.”
The estimated cost of replacing the door and locks is estimated to be over $ 500. This is money Harris said she shouldn’t have to spend. Harris said the next door will not have glass, in hopes that this will deter another break-in.
“I hold on to the rock they threw to break it,” she said.
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PCCS serves the public through a pantry, clothing distribution center, and disaster relief efforts. Funding is provided by grants and donations from businesses, churches and individuals. It all started in 1982. Harris has been with PCCS for over 23 years.
The Burgaw Police Department is investigating the incident which it says happened around 10:15 p.m. on Saturday. Chief Jim Hock and Harris said a thief was caught on video. The detective of the department is working on possible leads.
“They are a service to the town of Burgaw as well as to Pender County,” Hock said. “They are helping people in need and it is unfortunate that they have an incident where items are stolen from them while they are trying to help others.”
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A spirit of forgiveness
Although Harris is upset, she is ready to forgive the person responsible and asks the thief to have a conscious safe and return the safe to her.
“We’re all focused on grace and mercy here,” Harris said.
Harris said it wouldn’t be the first time he has forgiven. Harris said people have already been caught stealing from Second Blessings Boutique, which is operated by PCCS to help those in need. After confronting the thieves, Harris said she warned them about prosecution if it happened again.
“Most of the time I don’t have to do this,” she said. “With some people, you don’t know what’s on their mind or what they’re doing. I handle a lot of situations, but once I catch them, I handle them. I try to make them understand that they don’t. I don’t have to do that. ”
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Lulu Soto, a store supervisor, was also devastated.
“I’m here to help people and it’s just heartbreaking when someone breaks in and steals something,” she said. “It’s not a lot, but it’s a lot for us.”
She said volunteers and staff work hard to serve the community and ask anyone responsible to return the safe, which included items such as keys. Like Harris, Soto is also ready to forgive.
“I’m a Christian and I hope he repents, gives it back or leaves it behind,” Soto said.
Hock asks anyone with information to contact the Police Department at 910-259-4924. If an agent is not in the office, calls will be sent to the dispatch system. In a public social media post, PCCS pleaded for the safe return.
“We hope you do the right thing and come forward,” officials said in a public Facebook post. “You not only stole from the PCCS, but you also stole from families in need within our community. Please come forward and return our safe.”
Journalist Chase Jordan can be contacted at [email protected]