'This is just a sign for us.' Latest break-in at Van Nuys church has leaders thinking about moving

Police are searching for a person who broke into a San Fernando Valley church and smashed several windows before running away, the latest of several break-ins at the nondenominational church that have forced its leaders to consider moving.

Officers arrived at Calvary Chapel Mid Valley Church, in the 14600 block of Sherman Way, shortly before 2:30 a.m. Monday, responding to a report of a possible burglary, said Los Angeles Police Officer Lizeth Lomeli. The suspect ransacked several rooms at the church, including a kindergarten classroom and an administration office, said the church's senior pastor, Robert Shank.

A neighbor called police when they heard noises coming from the church during the apparent break-in, Shank said.

Police who responded to the scene saw a suspect on the church property and followed that person, who got away, Shank said. It's still too early to say what was taken from the church or the amount of damage done to the building where the congregation of about 60 members are renters.

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The ordeal is not the first time the church has been the target of thieves or vandals, Shank said.

Shank's car was stolen from the church parking lot and thieves have broken into or vandalized the church three times since the start of the year, he said.

"This is causing us to move out," Shank said. "We have decided that we are no longer safe at this facility. To me, this is just proof or an indicator that we need to go. This is just a sign for us. We need to get out of here."

"We're just heavily targeted," said Shank, whose congregation has called the Van Nuys location home for the last 11 years.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.