RICHMOND HILL — An unknown suspect forced his way into the basement of Holy Child Jesus Church, Richmond Hill, on the night of Aug 10, highlighting the urgency of the parish’s efforts to add security.
After failing to break through an iron gate blocking him from the church, the perpetrator broke into the rectory using a battering ram. An alarm sounded leading the suspect to flee.
The break in affirms the importance of the parish’s “Loose Change Appeal,” which is raising money to pay for increased security, including cameras around the church.
Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros, the pastor, said the perpetrator — or perpetrators — broke into the church basement through a trap door in a small alleyway along 112th Street, which hadn’t been used in years. Once inside, the perp went through tunnels in the basement to a padlocked iron gate leading into the church.
After an unsuccessful attempt to enter the church through the gate, the lone access point, the perpetrator apparently moved on and found a door in the basement between the church and rectory. The suspect broke in using a huge pipe, but once an alarm sounded, he fled the scene. Several doors were damaged, but nothing was stolen.
Detective Denise Moroney, an NYPD spokesman, said an investigation is underway, and Bishop Cisneros said the police are looking into individuals who had problems with the church in the past. No suspects have been identified.
Over the past four months, the parish has been trying to raise $20,000 to install security cameras and to restore the church’s front door. It has raised $9,000 so far.
Bishop Cisneros said Holy Child Jesus is open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and he noted that people constantly come in and out to pray. Security cameras would help monitor the church and protect those coming to worship, he said.