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Fires at church, break-ins at homes highlight week of crime in Winston-Salem neighborhood

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Some people in the Konnoak Hills community of Winston-Salem are questioning their safety in areas which they normally consider the safest; their vehicles, their homes and even their church.

In the last week, Winston-Salem police say they’ve seen a rise in reports of suspicious persons, or prowlers. They have reports of eight vehicle break-ins, and these include forced entry into locked vehicles. They’ve also seen home break-ins, assaults, vandalisms, drug violations and more. But the repeat target in the area seems to be a place of worship.

“Today, Friday, they came back and struck again,” said Pastor John Bishop, of the Konnoak Baptist Church.

Bishop says the church has had property damaged for three days in a row. Their urns have been overturned, some bricks have been destroyed and worse.

“To me, what was scary was the fact that they started a couple of fires,” Bishop said.

Police were called out to investigate the fires and it seemed as though there were Sunday school papers taken from the church’s recycling bin and set on fire in two separate spots on church property.

“I don’t know if they understand how dangerous that is,” Bishop said.

Bishop, community leaders and police believe the culprits may be some who have the opportunity to be the best and brightest; teenaged students or perhaps younger.

As recently as this morning, six juveniles were spotted laying on one of the sets of stairs of the church.

“I really don’t understand why they’re picking on us at the church,” Bishop said. “We haven’t done anything to them.”

“It’s just escalated to having house break-ins in the daytime,” said Carolyn Highsmith, president of the Konnoak Hills Community Association.

Highsmith believes two groups are responsible for this week’s increase in crime; juveniles during the day when many of them should be in school and adult males at night.

“I want all of the Konnoak Hills neighbors to be on high alert,” Highsmith said.

Highsmith added that the association will be sending out crime alert fliers to residents. Police say they regularly patrol the video when they are not responding to other calls. However, as far as manpower, they are stretched thin.

“To whoever’s doing it, we’re willing to forgive you, but we’re asking that you stop,” Bishop said.

Another report – although unconfirmed – is worth mentioning. Both leaders in the community as well as schools have heard a report from a mother, who said she was carpooling students to Konnoak Elementary School on Thursday and heard a pop. She later realized that the glass of one of her vehicle’s windows had been cracked and believed it may have been due to a BB or pellet gun. However, police say while they were called out to investigate it, they did not see signs which would have indicated it was a BB or pellet which broke the glass. At this time, they’re still not exactly sure what caused the glass to break.