Soaring crime throws wrench into TikToker’s plan to fix up church: ‘We have to fend for ourselves’

A popular TikToker who tried unsuccessfully to renovate a run-down church in Kansas City says he won’t do that again after all the crime he’s had to deal with.

“I probably wouldn’t do a project like this again unless I truly see a change,” TikToker Johnny Youssef told Fox News this week.

What sort of change? Like someone, anyone doing something, anything about the city’s epidemic of homelessness and drug abuse.

“Until those things happen, I don’t think I would mess with urban Kansas City anymore,” Youssef said.

@johnnyyou Our wedding venue is moving forward despite the setback by thieves but we are catching them one at a time #renovations #beforeandafter #melroseabbeykc #fyp #kansascity ♬ original sound – Johnny Youssef

Fox News notes that “Youssef purchased the 101-year-old church in 2022 hoping to use it as a wedding venue with a boutique hotel.”

But sadly, incessant “burglaries, theft and vandalism” threw a wrench into his budget, costing him “around $60,000, between replacing the materials and tools, paying workers to fix the damages, lost revenue and mounting interest on his loans.”

“Unfortunately, I’m going to have to pay out of pocket. I’ve already filed that with insurance and basically I know that if I file anything else, they’ll cancel me out,” he said.

So he’s basically on his own.

“I realized real quick that we have to fend for ourselves. We’re doing everything we can on our own to try to prevent it from happening because otherwise it just happens and there’s nothing that can be done further,” he said.

According to Fox News, and based on data from the Kansas City Police Department, overall crime in Kansas City “increased nearly 8% from 2020 to 2022.”

“The agency is ‘down nearly 300 officers from what would be our full strength,’ a spokesperson [said], adding that violent crime has ‘risen over historic levels’ in recent years,” Fox News notes.

@johnnyyou Here’s a breakdown of the updated budget turning this old church into a wedding venue ️ #abbyandjohnny #beforeandafter #fyp #melroseabbeykc #renovations ♬ Cornfiield Chase-原野追逐 – 格格

But don’t get it twisted. Youssef is a real estate developer, so he’s used to dealing with crime occurring during projects. It’s just that the crime was never THIS BAD.

“I expected that we’ll have an attempted break-in here or there, but I did not expect it to be this bad. I would probably say every other day the security system is ringing,” he explained.

“Some examples of incidents at the church include people starting a fire on the property, a man bringing furniture on a roof and refusing to leave and people stealing equipment during the day while workers were present,” according to Fox News.

“Youssef has since employed a number of measures to deter more crime, like hiring an expensive monitoring company and installing an alarm system, a temporary fence, lights and cameras,” Fox News notes.

Youssef, a 12-year resident of Kansas City, was originally “lenient” with the criminals “since many were familiar with the church, which once had ministries offering services for the homeless.”

“At first I didn’t mind having someone in the front yard, staying for a little bit, I didn’t mind someone using our port-a-potty. They just need a bathroom or need a place to stay,” he said.

But as is almost always the case when criminals and deviants are granted leniency, the leniency was abused and the crimes escalated.

“This is not just like helping a homeless person just needing grass to sleep. This is people seeing how much they can push and how far they can go,” he said.

@johnnyyou We got a problem in our way of completing the wedding venue transformation #abbyandjohnny #fyp #fyp ♬ Belonging – Muted

Indeed, just last month he reportedly caught on camera criminals in a white SUV running off with $1000s worth of equipment from the church worksite.

How did the police respond? By essentially doing nothing.

“The police officer was very nice and was very polite, and he said, ‘that’s not my job, it’s the detective’s.’ I’ve been waiting now for two weeks and haven’t heard anything from a detective,” Youssef complained.

“The police report’s ‘conclude summary’ section said there is ‘no detective available for assignment.’ The police department spokesperson said a sergeant ‘made the decision based on available evidence/suspect identification etc to suspend this case pending further leads,'” according to Fox News.

During another incident, Youssef was reportedly placed on hold for four+ minutes after calling 911 to report seeing a man on the church’s roof moving around furniture and collecting wood.

“Less than 46% of 911 calls are answered within 15 seconds — far below the national standard 90 percent, reported The Kansas City Star in August. Some residents have waited up to or above 15 minutes, according to Melesa Johnson, the mayor’s director of public safety,” Fox News notes.


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Vivek Saxena


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