Suspect arrested in fire, break-in at Winston-Salem Rescue Mission

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Police have arrested a man accused of breaking into the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission Thrift Store, stealing items and then intentionally setting fire inside the business.

The store is now closed indefinitely because there's so much damage.

Ronald Anthony Houser, 44, of Winston-Salem

Ronald Anthony Houser, 44, of Winston-Salem, faces charges of felony burning of a public building, two counts of felony burning of personal property, felony breaking and entering, larceny after breaking and entering, larceny by an employee and safecracking.

The rescue mission's executive director said Houser was living at the rescue mission and working at the thrift shop.

Winston-Salem police say Houser broke in early Thursday morning, started two fires, and stole a safe and two cash boxes.

Fire tore through parts of the store. The smoke and water from the sprinkler system caused even more damaged.

Now, cleanup is starting, but the shop is closed with no opening date in sight.

The rescue mission is asking for the community's help. The thrift store provides work for people who stay at the rescue mission, like Houser, and lots of people count on their affordable prices.

The thrift shop also funds the rescue mission's other programs, and for every day it stays closed, the mission loses out on $1,500 to $2,000.

The mission is taking donations and has faith the community will step up.