By Ryan Hill

PATTERSON (CBS13) – A place of worship is sacred to many, but the pastor at First Baptist Church Of Patterson has been getting some after-hours visitors – particularly those breaking into the building.

The damages are making the church dip into it’s own pockets for repairs.

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“Every once in a while, we get one that likes to be a little more comfy and break inside. So for the last couple of months, we’ve had a guy that’s brought a nice size crowbar,” Pastor Steve Stoppe said.

The break-ins can cause a headache in more ways than one.

“A little frustrating to show up and have ladies try to get the kids do their school or whatever classes they’re doing and to have them find things as a result of him being here or them being here,” Stoppe said.

And, it’s not just the constant break-ins that are disturbing, but also what they do once inside.

“Unfortunately, they have been using the restroom, not in the restroom. They’ve been having relations. It’s been across the board,” Chief Joshua Clayton of Patterson Police Services said.

Thanks to security cameras the church set up inside, police were able to track down and arrest a homeless man suspected of the latest break-in.

Patterson Police Services said there was more than $1,000 of damage from the most recent one.

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“It really broke my heart because I think a place of worship is a sacred place,” Rosie Raya, director of Cambridge Academies, said.

Raya is a local homeless advocate who runs two shelters in Patterson.

She and Patterson Police Services have been working together to try to give the homeless a hand up to prevent these situations and improve the lives of the homeless in the area.

“I’ve seen that the growth is basically the same in regards to numbers. Because of the pandemic, it’s more visible of a need that the homeless are dealing with,” Raya said. “They know the options here. The thing is that if they chose that option.”

Stoppe told CBS13 the church is more than willing to help those out in need and hoping the break-ins stop.

“If you see one of us around, ask us. Instead of breaking in, ask somebody,” Stoppe said.

Patterson Police Services told CBS13 that the area where the church is located typically isn’t a hot spot for the homeless in town.

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Typically, they’re gathered near the railroad tracks along Highway 33.