HOUSTON -- Break-ins at local churches have some Houston pastors praying for relief this holiday season. A total of three churches have been targeted in recent weeks in the Sunnyside area, forcing some congregations to spend thousands of dollars for repairs and state-of-the-art security systems.

This is a hardship, said Reverend Ronald Cooks of the Evangelistic Restoration Church located in the 9400 block of Jutland Street.

According to the pastor, thieves broke into his worship hall twice, forcing him to install a drop down gate and security cameras.

When you have to use money to repair, it takes away from the opportunity to give, Rev. Cooks added.

Another church located a few blocks away was hit by thieves three times in one week.

Travis McGee is a trustee at Mount Mariah Baptist Church where plywood still covers a pair of windows thieves shattered to climb inside.

I think they re cowards, said McGee. I think they re cowards and they need to get a job.

According to Houston police crime statistics, break-ins are up in the neighborhood surrounding the churches.

The stats show there was a total of 90 burglaries in 2010. But, the number spiked to well over a hundred in 2011. Figures for this year are not yet available.

So far, thieves have made off with only small items from in the church break-ins. But they ve already shattered the peace of mind in the community.

You would think people would recognize the house of the Lord, but this is very sad, said Rev. Cooks.

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