October 25, 2006
It's the worst kind of theft, aimed at stealing from people who are helping give the homeless a place to stay.
Christ Central homeless shelter in Allendale was burglarized twice in the last three days.
Hal Nichols, the pastor who runs the program, says crime in the small town is spinning out of control. It's a problem he fears is too big for Allendale to handle on its own.
Money taken from people who need shelter, clothing, and food...stolen, to buy drugs.
As crime continues to rise in Allendale, it's the people who need help who are suffering the most.
Nichols showed News 12 how the burglar got into the shelter.
"He came in through this window and went straight for the office, busted through this door, you can see the damage right here...and broke into this cabinet."
That cabinet contained cash to help people at the shelter.
"Whoever broke in went straight for the petty cash and knew exactly where to find it," Pastor Nichols said.
He knew where to find it because he had lived here until Saturday.
"We caught this person doing crack and had to kick him out because we have a no drug policy," Pastor Nichols said.
So now instead of sleeping here...
"He will sleep in a jail cell."
The $67 stolen from the homeless shelter ended up on the streets to buy crack. Nichols says it's a perfect example of how Allendale's growing crime problem is being fueled by its growing drug problem.
"It's incredible," he said. "If you walk out that door with $100 dollars, within 60 seconds you can have a hit of crack. 60 seconds--and this is Allendale!"
And the drugs on the street are leading to even bigger problems for this small community.
Just two weeks ago Anthony Parker was shot at the Fleetwood Sports shop over a drug deal.
"Crime in Allendale over the last 18 months is getting out of control," Pastor Nichols said. "The problem is bigger than Allendale itself can solve. People somehow have to come together to get it solved."
But now Christ Central has a little less to give.
Pastor Nichols hasn't gone to the jail to see the suspected burglar, but says the man did call him from the detention center today. Nichols says the man apologized and said it was the drugs.
Nichols says he told him not to give up on his dream of getting his life back on track.