Burglars steal cash from four area churches, Catholic school; police seek suspects

Little cash is stolen, but buildings suffer heavy property damage

Police are warning places of worship to be on the lookout for suspicious behavior following a string of burglaries at four churches and a Catholic school.

During the two weekends following Thanksgiving, a burglar or burglars broke into Richfield Lutheran Church at 8 W. 60th St., Joyce United Methodist Church at 1219 W. 31st St., St. John's Lutheran Church at 4842 Nicollet Ave., a trailer behind the Church of the Annunciation at 509 W. 54th St. and Carondelet Catholic School at 2900 W. 44th St.

The only thing the burglar or burglars made off with was relatively small amounts of petty cash from some of the churches and a soundboard from the balcony at St. John's Lutheran Church. However, they did &#8220extensive ransacking” in the offices at each of the facilities and caused several hundred dollars worth of property damage, Southwest Sector Lt. Marie Przynski said.

St. John's Lutheran Church was burglarized twice. But with the exception of Joyce Methodist United Church and the trailer behind the Church of the Annunciation, there were no signs of forced entry into any of the buildings, Przynski said. At the Church of the Annunciation, the burglar(s) broke into a trailer behind the church that Boy Scouts were using to sell Christmas trees. No money was stolen from the trailer, Przynski said.

&#8220We're thinking that because the churches are open a lot longer during the holiday season, (the burglars) went into them during their open hours and waited until everyone left. Then they had several hours to pry on the office doors,” Przynski said.

Once inside the offices, the burglar(s) went through everything from files to cupboards.

&#8220Because they knew no one was going to be there for a while, they went through everything,” Przynski said.

The most that was stolen at any one church was $90, and the total taken from all of the churches &#8220wasn't more than $200,” Przynski said.

&#8220[They took] very little, actually. That's the amazing thing,” 5th Precinct Crime-Prevention Specialist Tom Thompson said.

The burglaries do not have a lot of similarities, Thompson said, adding that police do not know whether the same person or persons committed the crimes. Minneapolis Police do not have any suspects, but Przynski said law enforcement officials in Stearns County arrested an individual who had a checkbook in his or her possession that was reported stolen from Richfield Lutheran Church during the burglary there. Przynski did not know the status of the Stearns County case or any additional details.