Parishioners concerned over purse thefts at churches

Posted at: 04/01/2013 6:48 PM
By: Lily Jamali

Parishioners at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Schenectady were stunned by the news that one of their own, Rose DiCrescente, had her purse stolen at a Good Friday service.

It happened during a portion of the service when churchgoers approach the altar.

"A lady had left her pocketbook in her pew, which most people do at that time not thinking anything will happen. When she got back, her pocketbook had been taken," said Pastor Robert Hohenstein.

The church has four surveillance cameras on its property.

Church officials say the footage shows a man leaving while the service was still going on and that he took off down Ninth Avenue.

"A lot of people said this person was wearing a hat. That should have been a clue. Men don't wear hats in church, especially on Good Friday," said Father Hohenstein.

Police are calling the man in the footage a "person of interest".

It wasn't the only theft of its kind this week.

Schenectady Police say there was a similar theft at St. John the Evangelist on Palm Sunday, and another on Easter Sunday at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Rotterdam.

In both incidents, a woman's purse went missing after she returned from communion.

Police believe the three thefts were likely committed by three separate suspects.

"I can't believe anybody would do such a thing in a church. I hope they at least return the purse. It's a terrible, terrible thing," said Our Lady of Mount Carmel parishioner Addie Boyark.