Church Thefts Show an Uglier Side of the Season

Tuesday, 24 Dec 2013 07:52 PM

By Joe Schaeffer

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Thieves are finding opportunities during the Christmas season in the most consecrated of places.

A church in Ormond Beach, Fla., was burglarized of a $25,000 Christmas collection Sunday night, television station WESH in Orlando reports.

Pastor Drew Powell of Oasis Church said he noticed a broken window and realized as he entered his office Monday that the church's safe, along with all of the money, had been taken.

Powell said it was a crime against a community of believers.

"Our kids save and everyone brings in their offering, and that is what was stolen. It's really the only thing that was taken," he said.

Even more brazen were burglars in Worcester, Mass., who broke into a Catholic Church late Monday night or early Tuesday morning and made off with several gold chalices.

MassLive.com reports that police investigating at St. John's Church on Tuesday said an employee noticed an opened box of wine outside the church that morning.

A gold-plated monstrance — a two-foot cross with a hole in the middle used to hold the Eucharist, which Catholics believe is the Body of Christ and thus the most sacred element of their faith, was found by a rear basement window sill.

"A search of the outside of the building revealed no obvious points of entry. Police believe that the suspect may have hidden within the building when it was secured last night," the Worcester Police Department said.

A thief in Boca Raton, Fla., was caught on video committing his act of Grinchery within a church itself, local TV station WSVN reports.

A man can be seen entering an empty Joan of Arc Catholic Church on Saturday, getting into a pew and kneeling in apparent prayer. After looking around for a moment, he darts to a charity donation bin at the back of the church and breaks into it. The thief made off with about $500.

Story continues below video.

WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miam Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Boca Raton Police Public Information Manager Mark Economou said, "There's no nervousness, it seems, in the video of the individual going in there, very carefree and taking money."

But one has to go overseas to find perhaps the most wrenching story of this Christmas season.

A blind violinist playing in a Christmas concert at St. James' Church in West Hampstead, England, says she was robbed of a handbag filled with personal valuables of special importance during the performance, local newspaper Ham & High reported Thursday. Abi Baker, who has been blind since birth, says she is in "shock" over the theft.

"I just felt completely numb. It was a Christmas concert and you would think people would be full of goodwill to all men.

"My debit card was taken, so I can't do my Christmas shopping. I love Christmas, so it's devastating that this has happened."

Baker says two cellphones equipped with special screen-reading software to help with her disability were taken in the robbery. When she called one of the phones, a man answered and told her he had found the phone on a bus and would not give it back.

Baker also lost a disabled-persons railcard, which gets her discounted fares, in the theft.

Perhaps the final word best belongs to Pastor Powell in Ormond Beach, who said Christmas would still come with or without the collection money his church lost.

"We'll have hot chocolate set up. We've got snow. Real snow," the Floridian said of Christmas Eve services.

"It's never been about the money. And it will never be about the money. It's about our heart."

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