Suspect sought for pilfering collection box at Park Slope church

Staffers at St. Thomas Aquinas Church are on watch after a suspect stole from the parish’s collection box in broad daylight Friday.
Photo by Todd Maisel

Police are still looking for the man they say pilfered the charity collection box at a Park Slope church shortly after services on July 31.

According to the Brooklyn Diocese, the suspect breached the collection box at St. Thomas Aquinas Church on 9th Street and removed an undetermined amount of cash. The church reported the incident to the 78th Precinct, and detectives are now examining video evidence collected at the scene.

Sources say the theft was discovered at around 4 pm on Friday by a Franciscan sister who was sanitizing the church pews. Church leaders believe the theft occurred after 1:30 pm that day, with the thief slipping in after the noon services ended.

Video provided by the Brooklyn Diocese indicates that the suspect is a heavy-set white man who was wearing an orange shirt and a hat at the time of the theft. He may also have a pony tail.

The steal comes after months of services being shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, limiting churches’ collections both for their own operations and for other charitable causes.

“I am saddened by what happened inside our beautiful church yesterday, but I am grateful to God that no one was injured,” said Father Willy Kingsley Ndi, administrator of St. Thomas Aquinas Church, on Saturday. “I understand in these unprecedented times, many people have lost their jobs and need assistance, but this not how you turn to the church for help. My message to those in need is to ring our doorbell, don’t vandalize and steal, and let us help you.”

A donation makes its way into the collection box.Photo by Todd Maisel

Roy Oriallo, a member of the church watching the rear of the chapel, said he was also saddened by the theft.

“We had just ended the Friday noon services, and he got in when we didn’t see him,” Oriallo said. “It looks like he took a screw driver to it and cut the lock open. The box is back now, but it’s really sad we must watch it.”

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the NYPD’s 78th Precinct at (718) 636-6411 or NYPD Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-8477. All calls are confidential.

This story first appeared on AMNY.com.