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Church Thefts On The Rise In Derry Township

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Mary Robb Jackson Mary Robb Jackson
Mary Robb Jackson joined KDKA-TV as a general assignment reporter in...
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DERRY TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — After being cooped up all winter, there’s real a temptation to roll down the windows to enjoy these days of heaven—but thefts from cars especially ones in church parking lots, have been easy pickings in Derry Township, Westmoreland County.

“Disappointing, to think that people here are worshiping, says Father William Donahue. “We can’t keep an eye on the parking lot all the time.”

Last Sunday, while families gathered at “Saint Rose Catholic Church” to watch their children make their First Holy Communion, thieves were busy.

It was the third time for Saint Rose.

“They’ve been epidemic numbers. We’ve had 20-different incidents in the last month,” PA State Trooper Steve Limani says.

20-incidents translate into nearly 70-vSictims.

Some doors and windows were left open. Other vehicles windows were smashed to get the goods.

“Actually had one-thousand dollars that was lying on the seat. We’ve had numerous amounts of purses, wallets, thumb drives and DVD’s,” Trooper Limani says.

Parishioners found a warning in their weekly bulletin.

Nearby, Saint Mary’s Dome parking lot has been a target as well as Saint Joseph Catholic Church on South Ligonier Street.

“It’s been popped open so they could jimmy the lock,” Father Stephen West says.

Father West says one of his office doors was splintered.

Tuesday night thieves broke in to the church itself, but only got 4-bucks by knocking the lock off the box for vigil candle donations.

Father West says there was also a break-in at St. Martin in New Derry. That time they came up empty.

“Miraculously, we walked in to the sacristy and everything had been opened, all the doors were open and all the closets – nothing was taken,” Father West adds.

One suspect is described as having a military type short haircut, with a tattoo on his arm, driving a black pickup truck.

Father West says he’ll offer up a Mass for him.

If you have any information about the thefts call State Police Greensburg at (724) 832-3288.

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