Thieves target Durham ministry’s coffeehouse

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – A Durham church’s ministry, Sacred Grounds Coffeehouse, has proved to not to be sacred ground for some young thieves.

The coffeehouse, operated Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday nights by St. Paul United Methodist Church on North Roxboro Street, has been targeted twice by thieves in the past three weeks.

The ministry, which accepts donations but does not charge for the coffee, installed surveillance cameras after a November break-in. Thieves took about $1,700 worth of sound equipment during that burglary.

On the night of May 25, the cameras caught three young people at the church. They entered by breaking a window with a rock. They got away with a guitar and snacks.

“I think they’re bored, which is a major issue with the youth of today,” said Richard Ward, chair of the ministry.


Then in the mid-morning hours of June 8, at least one came back wearing the same backpack that they used in the first burglary. This time – he came from above.

“They came in through the ceiling,” Ward said, pointing to an area missing a ceiling tile.

Again, the thief took nothing of significant value, Ward said, just sodas and water, but turned cameras away from him and cut power to part of the building.

Durham police said no charges have been filed.

Also recently, a development came in the November case. A Durham pawn shop discovered an amplifier, sound board and speakers with serial numbers matching that which the church lost. Ward said police were able to identify and charge the people who sold those items to the pawn shop, though it wasn’t clear whether they were directly connected to the break-ins.

A police spokesperson could not immediately confirm any charges.

Ward said he’s not sure he wants to see the teenagers involved in the latest break-ins charged, but does want them to be held accountable, paying for their damage. And – there’s something else he’d like.

“We would actually like these youth to come see us. Let us talk with them. What can we do for them to help them see that breaking-and-entering is not the route to go,” he said.

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