Thieves target vehicles in church parking lot

January 29, 2010 4:02:16 PM PST
Residents in a west Harris County neighborhood are working together to stop a growing problem -- car break-ins. And these thieves are even going after people while they're in the middle of church services. It's got churchgoers on alert at Mission Bend United Methodist Church. "We still have some broken glass here that we haven't cleaned up yet," said Eston Hupp with Mission Bend United Methodist Church.

What happened there was no accident. The glass is what's left of a window of a vehicle that was parked at Mission Bend United Methodist Church . The owner was inside for Sunday services.

"They will go up and look into cars and if they see an object they want, they will smash it, grab it and within about 30 seconds, the whole event is over," said Hupp.

A similar crime took place just last week. The target this time -- a mother dropping her child off at Mission Bend Christian Academy. When she went back to the car, her purse was gone.

"We had it happen three weeks ago," said Dr. Gregg Patrick with the Southwest Community Christian Center

It was the same MO as the first break-in, but at a different church parking lot - the Southwest Community Christian Center about three miles away, also on a Sunday.

"They know when to attack and we had guards in the parking lot here," said Dr. Patrick. "It wasn't like there was nobody here watching. The guards were here."

The parking lots at Mission Bend United Methodist are now being patrolled, too, by the people who work here.

"If they know that they're being taped," said Marita Foreman with the Mission Bend Christian Academy,

The head of the school, who almost had her car broken into, is also looking at surveillance cameras.

"I'd like for them to be caught because I think as long as they're not caught, it'll keep happening," said Foreman.

We checked with the Harris County Sheriff's Office. Authorities tell us they don't consider this area a hot spot and they tell us they haven't seen a spike or an increase in vehicle break-ins in this particular area in recent weeks. They say these types of crimes are common and are widespread throughout Harris County.