Suspect Was A Church Member, Monsignor Says

LINDENHURST, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island man was accused Saturday of breaking into a church and stealing hundreds of dollars.

As WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported, police said a the suspect entered Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, at 210 S. Wellwood Ave. in Lindenhurst, Long Island, through a window multiple times.

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He allegedly stole money from the poor boxes and candle donation boxes.

The suspect, Leonard DeGaetano, got in at night. But Monsignor Joseph DeGrocco said the suspect began his plot during the day.

“Apparently, he would just sit there, and at some point, I guess, unlock the window – leave it closed, but unlocked so he could push it; wriggle his way in,” DeGrocco said.

Once inside, DeGaetano allegedly used a hook-like object to steal the cash.

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Leonard Degaetano has been charged with burglary and possession of burglar's tools. (Credit Handout)

Leonard Degaetano has been charged with burglary and possession of burglar’s tools. (Credit Handout)

“Something akin to maybe like a hanger with a tweezers on the end of it, and he would reach into the candle box and pull the money out,” DeGrocco said.

DeGaetano was a longtime member of the church, according to DeGrocco.

“When I came down here and then saw who had been arrested, my first reaction was, ‘Oh, it’s you?’” DeGrocco said.

Surveillance cameras and a police stakeout helped catch the alleged thief.

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