Diocesan News

Police Still Searching for Suspect in Church Break-ins

Police suspect this man is responsible for nine break-ins at churches and commercial buildings  in Brooklyn and Queens between Aug. 4 and Aug. 28, according to The New York Post. (Photo: Church of St. Sylvester’s-Blessed Sacrament)

CYPRESS HILLS — Police are still searching for a man suspected of break-ins at three Catholic churches in Brooklyn and Queens as well as of break-ins at three other churches and three commercial buildings, the New York Post reported.

The suspect has stolen at least $5,000 in cash and other valuables, including a $2,500 DVD system from St. Joseph’s Parish, Jamaica. The alleged robber also broke into St. Sylvester, Cypress Hills, and St. Benedict Joseph Labre, Richmond Hill.

It is believed the stretch of thefts began on Aug. 4, when the suspect broke into a print supply store on Jamaica Avenue and stole $500. On Aug. 9, he hit St. Sylvester, where he stole almost $1,000.

The suspect was caught on a “ring bell” camera at the rectory of St. Joseph’s, Jamaica on Aug. 12. (Photo: St. Joseph’s Catholic Church)

According to Father Jose Henrique, parochial vicar of St. Sylvester’s and nearby Blessed Sacrament, the man broke into St. Sylvester’s at 11:15 p.m. He found the church’s safe where the weekly collections are held, but couldn’t open it. Instead, he took change from a 5-gallon jug located on top of the safe.

Father Henrique was at the rectory at Blessed Sacrament at the time, as St. Sylvester’s doesn’t have a rectory. He was informed about the break-in the next morning. Father Henrique said the robber’s path made it appear as though he knew where he was going. The priest said he is saddened that the man took the change because it is usually donated to charities, such as orphanages.

At St. Joseph’s, security video showed a man made his way to the sacristy around 6 p.m. on Aug.12. Father Chris Piasta, St. Joseph’s pastor, said the man entered the sacristy. There were no signs of forced entry, but Father Piasta believed the man may have used a credit card or something similar to open the door.

The next morning, lots of drawers in the sacristy were found open, suggesting the man was searching for money. When he came up empty, he took the DVR system and left.

The two priests says investigations into the robberies remain unresolved and are ongoing.