BRONXVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A career criminal has been arrested again, after allegedly stealing thousands in collections from a church in Bronxville and also allegedly stealing a cellphone at a local school a week later.

As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, Frederick Nelson, 63, was allegedly spotted on surveillance video at the Bronxville School during school hours this week. He allegedly stole a cellphone from an office.

Parents on Friday were wondering how a convicted criminal got into the building.

“They’re really good about the school security, but I’m stunned that he got in that easily, so it is a bit troubling,” said Harold Clark of Bronxville.

The incident happened one week after Nelson allegedly stole a bank deposit bag containing about $2,000 in holiday collections from the Church of St. Joseph in Bronxville, police said.

That unholy act, which happened on New Year’s Eve, was caught on surveillance video.

Police said Nelson was caught on camera wearing distinctive black eyeglasses during the crime.

Nelson has been arrested 35 times before and convicted 27 times, including for eight felonies and 19 misdemeanors, according to Bronxville Police.

Authorities said he got out of prison on Dec. 30, for a burglary at a local Lutheran college.

Nelson went to a parole meeting the next morning and then allegedly headed for the church.

“We see criminals released and repeat their crimes often, but for it to be within 24 hours,” Bronxville Police Chief Christopher Satriale said.

Surveillance cameras were watching as he allegedly waited for the collection baskets to be passed and struck while parishioners were still praying.

The Rev. Augustine Badgely told CBS2’s Conybeare the suspect waited for the right moment during the 5 p.m. service — just after the collection — and went into the sacristy behind the altar before the locked cash bag was put into the safe.

It turns out that before entering the church, investigators said, Nelson was caught on camera across the street shoplifting a rotisserie chicken and an iced tea at the grocery store.

Sgt. Richard Anderson viewed surveillance video of the theft and recognized Nelson, leading to his arrest, according to Bronxville Police.

“When I saw the ACME food store video it jogged my memory and seeing the glasses in his criminal history photo and getting another photo from parole it was quite evident who it was,” Anderson said.

Anderson previously arrested Nelson in 2011, police said.

A priest at St. Joseph’s called it a very sad case and said they would forgive Nelson of his sins.


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