Hoke County churches on alert after rash of break-ins

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One surveillance video showed a suspect walking across a church parking lot.

The Hoke County Sheriff's Office is investigating a string of burglaries at area churches along US-401. The crime spree began two weeks ago when a suspect broke into God's Way, Mt. Pisgah Missionary Church and Word of Life Temple.

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Surveillance video at Word of Life caught the suspect walking across the parking lot before breaking into the front door.

Over at Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church, administrator Belinda McCloud was opening up the building two weeks ago when she noticed someone had beat her to the punch.

"I noticed that the window to the fellowship hall was open and the screen laying on the ground," said McCloud.

The suspect had broken in and treated themselves to a midnight snack.

"I think this is kind of sad. Because we're believing this person is in need of help. We're not sure that it's a homeless person, what was going on," McCloud said.

Though the church is willing to believe the best, the Sheriff's Office says this suspect is up to no good and may strike again.

"When a person breaks into a house or business, they always look around to see what else is there for later," said Sheriff Hubert Peterkin.

The Sheriff's Office plans to be there if the burglar strikes again. Peterkin has beefed up patrols in the area and plans to hold a forum to teach churches how to securely lock up.

"One small incident can lead to something very huge, very big. We have to keep an open mind about the fact that they (churches) are targets, so we want to make sure that we keep them aware," said Peterkin.

The Sheriff's Office plans to hold the security summit later this summer.

If you know anything about the rash of break-ins, the Sheriff's Office is asking you to contact them at (910) 875-5111

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