A local volunteer organization that gives money, clothes and food to low-income families was broken into last week for the third time in the last year.
But this time, the outcome was different. Garner Police arrested Byron Eugene Seward, 55, of Clayton, and charged him with breaking and entering, felony larceny and possession of burglary tools. Police responded to the alarm at 1:46 a.m., early Saturday morning. They saw Seward drive past them and stopped him.
“When they interviewed him, he confessed to the crime,” Lt. Lorie Smith said.
Police believe that when they were searching Garner Area Ministries, Seward had broken into another business, Lin’s Cleaners, nearby.
A window and a file cabinet was damaged, but Seward was not able to take anything from the business.
Smith said police are unsure whether the three incidents at Garner Area Ministries are connected.
“We don’t know at this point,” she said.
But Carol Oriel, president of the board of directors at Garner Area Ministries, believes they are not connected.
This was the third time in the last 11 months that Garner Area Ministries has been broken into. The first time was last November. Someone busted a window in their thrift store, and found his or her way to their office. The burglar stole $4,700 in cash. The $4,700 in cash was enough to supply two months worth of food for the families the group serves.
Oriel said the burglary appeared to have been committed by someone who knew the store and knew where the keys to the store were.
After the first burglary, Garner Area Ministries installed an alarm system, and no longer leaves as much money in the store. A person tried to break in for a second time this year, but the alarm scared them away, Oriel said.
“It’s getting tiresome,” she said of the break-ins. “You just wonder why is this happening. Is it because people are desperate? We’re here to help people. You just don’t know.”
They’ve had to replace multiple windows, which cost $300. Each time a window is broken, it’s taken from their budget and they have fewer resources to help people.
Garner Area Ministries is located in the Garner Village Shopping Center, less than a mile from the police station. It is in the same area where a vandal tagged businesses with anti-police graffiti last year.
Oriel said she and the board of directors have not yet discussed whether they will consider moving their operations to a new location. But in the past they have had dreams of moving to a bigger place.
Garner Area Ministries has been providing food, clothing and financial assistance to people in the Garner area for more than 30 years.