The staff and congregation at the Church of the Magdalene in New York's Pocantico Hills are stunned following the Christmas day robbery of $20,000 in offerings.
Rev. Joseph Dietz told the Journal News "I was shocked and our parishioners were shocked. We've never had anything like this happen here."
According to Mount Pleasant police, the thief struck during the church's Christmas morning mass. The person reportedly pried open a back door, broke in into the church office and stole the money from a desk drawer. The $20,000 was collected from attendees of its two Christmas Eve mass.
Mount Pleasant Police Chief Paul Oliva told the Christian Post the church depends on the holidays for part of its income. Other news reports state the money taken would have covered one-fifth of the church's annual operating budget.
According to the parish website, the church services nearly 400 families from more than 15 towns and villages in Wetchester County. Although Dietz's said his church has never experienced a crime of this manner, Chief Oliva said he has seen incidents of money being taken from churches during his 26-year career and noted that many area houses of worship are taking extra precautions to prevent theft.
Though astonished by the burglary, Dietz said members continue to give and in some cases are writing new checks after canceling the stolen ones. "People are responding and it's very gratifying to see," he said of church's generosity.
As for the thief, Dietz expressed a desire to meet with the person, noting that it is "sad" that someone would chose to exhibit such behavior on a day set aside for faith and family.
Oliva said he could not comment on whether or not the police department has any suspects for the crime. However he said he is working closely the clergy to get to the bottom of it. Oliva alsod expressed optimism that the case would be solved soon. "What happens in the dark, comes out in the light," he said of the crime.