MOUNT VERNON — Three local churches — First Congregational United Church of Christ, North Main Street; First Presbyterian Church, North Gay Street; and St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, East High Street — were burglarized over the weekend.
Sharon Robertson, secretary at First Congregational Church, said the perpetrators broke a window in the back to get into the building and unscrewed a window frame in the pastor’s office to gain entry.
Whoever broke in didn’t get any money, she said, but “pretty much trashed” her office. “It’s kind of scary,” she added. “It’s an invasion of privacy, and it’s a mess. It’s going to take several hours to get it cleaned up.”
Robertson said she has been working for the church for 34 years and this is the seventh or eighth time the church has been broken into.
“We don’t keep money in the church here,” she said. “We learned a long time ago ... I feel bad for people who are that desperate to break into a church, but we just don’t keep funds around.”
“All the churches need to be aware to tighten up their security,” said Mead Weil, chairman of the First Presbyterian building and grounds committee.
The robbers braved security lights and broke locks on an exterior door of First Presbyterian Church, Weil said. The bandits destroyed a safe and got “a small amount of petty cash” for their efforts. They did some interior damage to doors, too.
“Someone was very determined when they came in,” Weil said. “They did also break into the pastor’s office and looked for things there, but they didn’t find anything. ... I’m hoping some good comes from all this, but I guess churches are not sacred anymore.”
Officials from St. Vincent were unavailable for comment this morning but a parishioner told the News the burglars got in through a back door of the church and broke a couple of locks on their way to the safe.
“Little money is kept at the church,” he said. “Deposits are made after every Mass.”
Capt. George Hartz of the Mount Vernon Police Department said all three break-ins occurred Saturday night/Sunday morning. “We don’t have any suspects at this time, but there are a couple of persons of interest. We are still investigating.”
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