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Suspect sought in string of church donation box thefts

The man is believed to have repeatedly stolen money from a Glendale church, including donations to help relief efforts in Haiti.

January 05, 2011|By Megan O'Neil, Los Angeles Times

Glendale police are searching for a man they believe has repeatedly broken into donation boxes at a local Catholic church, including money donated to help relief efforts in Haiti.

The most recent theft at Holy Family Catholic Church occurred Dec. 27 when the thief, described as 5 feet 10 inches tall, bald, middle-aged and of Middle Eastern or Latino descent, was spotted at 4 p.m. in front of Holy Family School, said Sgt. Tom Lorenz. Most recently, the man was seen wearing a blue jacket and jeans. He also has several visible tattoos on his neck.

The man disappeared but was seen an hour later inside the Lomita Avenue church entrance stealing money from the Haiti relief offering box. He fled before police arrived.

"Unfortunately, it is an easy target because it is a church that often opens its doors to the members of the community, and the church does have members that donate money to various causes," Lorenz said.

The man has been seen at or in the vicinity of Holy Family several times, including once when he was spotted and pointed out by the parish priest during Mass, said facilities director Bill Evans. The man is often seen riding a bicycle with a silver basket attached to the handlebars.

The church staff believes the man uses a tool of some kind to take cash from other donation boxes in the church. About $400 has been stolen so far, Evans said. Most of the money was meant to help the poor.

"We just haven't been able to catch him at it," Evans said.

All Holy Family parishioners have been notified about the thefts, as has a neighboring church, Evans said.

"You would think that it being a church that someone wouldn't steal from them, as sacred as it can be," Lorenz said.

megan.oneil@latimes.com

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