Reporting Lou Young
NEW YORK (1010 WINS/CBS 2) — In a season of hope, a sad trend is developing in the Bronx. Police there are investigating a string of break-ins at churches and parochial schools.
CBS 2’s Lou Young reports the latest incident occurred in Bedford Park.
On her knees and nearly in tears on Monday the principal at Our Lady of Refuge School in the Bronx assessed the losses from an overnight break-in.
“Everything was gone. Everything. The fact that they broke in here … they’re stealing from the mouths of the children,” Marivel Colon told Young.
Thieves got away with laptops, cameras, and $1,300 in cash. They broke a hammer battering through the padlocked closet door after coming in through a basement auditorium window.
The incident marked the fifth time this month such hammer-wielding thieves have struck at a church or parochial school in the area. Police haven’t officially called it a pattern yet, but the victims are.
“Looks like a pattern. I think it’s a pattern,” Monsignor John Jenik said.
It has some of the hallmarks of an inside job. Whoever broke in knew that it was rotted away and would be easy to peel back. The alleyway leads out to Bainbridge Avenue. That’s how they got in. They also knew there would be a staircase here from the stage department that would allow them easy access in and out.
All five crime scenes are within walking distance of one another.
Last week saw three break-ins, including a hammer raid on church poor boxes at St. Johns and another principal’s office raid at Our Lady of Angels.
“It was an absolute mess. It looked as if the filing cabinet had exploded,” Our Lady of Angels’ principal Sister Mary Cleary said.
New security procedures now mean no more overnight petty cash and donation boxes emptied every few hours. They are disheartening precautions in the season of hope.
“It was sad that people would dare come in and disrespect a church,” said Father Joy Zabala of St. John’s.
It’s the same sacrilegious modus operandi. The police are looking for tips to solve the case. The churches would be happy to take a confession.
On the bright side, one of the victimized churches reported an uptick in donations following the theft. A single donor wrote a check for $400 on Sunday at St. John’s.