Exactly a week before Christmas, members of the Sweet Gum Grove Church in Stokes arrived for a Wednesday evening 7 o'clock service. Upon their arrival, they noticed something wasn't right. The church had been burglarized.
Deputies say it happened sometime after 2:30 Monday afternoon, and before the members showed up Wednesday. Pastor Stan Asby said whoever is responsible broke in through a back window. The person(s) then stole three TVs (two of which were a 42 inch Magnavox and a 36 inch Samsung), a new 17 inch Dell computer, a Samsung blu-ray player and some cash. In total, about $1,680 dollars worth of items and $300 dollars worth of damage.
"It had that look of desperation about it. That someone really, really needed to get in here bad," said Asby.
About the timing, Asby said it's "sad because it's Christmas time. But at the same time it's sad that someone would be in a situation where they would need money that badly." In fact, Asby said, had whoever broke in told the church of their situation, they "would have helped 'em. We help people all the time here."
Asby said although whoever is responsible wronged the church, he doesn't hold it against them. "We forgive 'em. We don't wish any harm to 'em, except for them to stop. We don't want anyone else to have to go through this," he said.
It is unknown as to whether or not deputies have any suspects in the case. Anyone with information on the break-in should contact the Pitt County Sheriff's Office.