NEW KENSINGTON (KDKA) — Hundreds of parishioners came to Mount Saint Peter Church in New Kensington this Christmas weekend to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

But sometime between the conclusion of midnight mass and the service on Christmas morning, thieves broke in stealing roughly $5,000 in Christmas offerings.

“These people are career-minded in criminal activity,” New Kensington Police Chief Ron Zellers said. “They know the amount of money that the churches are receiving during the holiday.”

The thieves got in by breaking a cross window in the office door and reaching inside to open the lock.

“Once inside the church they went to the office area where they rummaged through the office where they did find the Christmas mass offerings and did take them,” Chief Zellers said.

Just last week, the nearby United Presbyterian Church was also hit. Thieves there got away with several computers and about $500 that had been raised for a mission trip.

The suspects in both of these burglaries have the same M.O. That’s why police are now warning other churches in town to step up security and be on guard.

“There is a chance it’s the same individuals involved. We do have some persons of interest that we’re looking at, but of course this is early in investigation and we’ll see where it goes,” Chief Zellers said.

Back in October, law enforcement officers from across the country travelled to Mount Saint Peter Church for the funeral of fallen Lower Burrell Police Officer Derek Kotecki.

The pastor of the church tells police he is planning to install a security camera as soon as possible.

“It’s very sad, very sad. During the holidays these churches help the homeless, they feed people, they do a lot of things for the less fortunate in the community and then to see a church or churches get hit – it’s just a very sad thing,” Chief Zellers added.

More Local News
More Westmoreland County News

More From CBS Pittsburgh

Get The All New CBS Local App
KDKA Weather App

Watch & Listen LIVE