Allentown church burglaries

March 30, 2009 3:51:41 PM PDT
Saint Stephens Lutheran Church in Allentown has been the target of a mini crime wave in the last few months. The pastor's computer was stolen out of an office, a purse was stolen from inside the church, and an elderly parishioner was mugged on the way to services.Then Sunday, a stranger who was welcomed inside, disappeared shortly there after having swiped three checks from the donation box.

"I think it makes us all afraid and fearful and yet it also says we have to step up to the plate," said Rev. Maritza Torres Dolich, the pastor of Saint Stephens.

Because of the thefts, church members have taken to locking the doors once services begin.

"There's always something going on almost every day here, and yet you have to keep the doors locked," said church treasurer Tom Grim.

"If it's necessary, I guess it's necessary. But it's not like we're used to," said Lillian Brown.

Parishioners and neighbors are stunned by what's happening. "I know times are hard, don't get me wrong but come on now to steal from a church, no excuse for that," said Amy Lewis.

"They should lock the door I mean that's the only way you are going to protect things in the church by locking the door," said Henderson Ashby.

The idea of locking up the church especially during church is upsetting too many here because Saint Stephen's prides itself on outreach to the local community. The pastor says the thefts here are not going to change that.

"You do not give up on the city, you keep praying, you keep working hard, there is hope," said Rev. Torres Dolich.

Pastor Maritza Torres Dolich, says what's been happening makes it clear that even if the door is literally lock at times her congregation must keep their hearts open to those that need help.

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