Thieves steal vital tools from TLC ministry

Their tools are donated and they use whatever recycled materials they can get their hands on: wooden pallets, barbed wire, pieces of old furniture.

The men of Transforming Life Through Christ Ministries, most of them homeless and working to overcome drug and alcohol addictions, use the materials to make crosses at the former Sheldon Academy and exchange them for donations to help support the ministry.

Now, the men of TLC Ministries are left wondering what they will do for income after someone broke into the Family Worship Center on Nov. 11 at 17 Fire Station Lane in Sheldon and stole nearly $16,000 worth of the ministry's tools, including a generator and table saw, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.

The Rev. Ron Von Fricken, the program's founder, and program members discovered the theft when they arrived to drop off donated furniture, he said. Investigators have no suspects, said Sgt. Robin McIntosh, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office.

"Everything had been donated, and they had been using a lot of the tools for the Cross Project, which they build and then sell to help earn money," Von Fricken said. "It's a really sad thing. The men were hurt by it."

The workshop is housed in a building owned by Family Worship Center, which TLC is allowed to use without charge.

"The robbery will set us back on our project," Von Fricken said. "Somebody knows who did this, and we'd like to be able to get the tools back."

In the meantime, Von Fricken hopes the men will be able to do odd jobs to earn money. He said they can do such work as oil changes, car detailing, job site cleanup and other small construction jobs.

"The men are upset about it, but they want to work," he said. "We are lucky because it could have been much worse."