The season of lent is supposed to be one of abstinence and atonement for Christians. But two recent visitors to a couple of Roman Catholic churches in the Northeast seem to be having trouble with both of those lofty ideals.
In one case, police captured a Morrell Park man who allegedly broke into the poor box at Our Lady of Calvary Church several times seeking petty cash. In another case, authorities are still seeking a Bristol, Bucks County, woman who allegedly swiped book fair proceeds from St. Martha’s Church on Feb. 2.
Officers Denny Clair and John Hanejko of the 8th district used some old-school surveillance to arrest William Christopher Sides for allegedly trying to rip off the donation receptacle at Calvary, 11024 Knights Road, last Friday. After learning of two prior thefts at the same church, the cops camped out inside the sanctuary for almost two full days, hoping to catch the crook red-handed.
At about 9 p.m. on Friday, Sides allegedly used a lost key to enter the locked church and made a B-line for the poor box, which he tried to pry open. Hearing the commotion, the cops identified themselves and chased Sides, nabbing him on the steps outside.
Authorities believe that Sides, 28, of the 3300 block of Kayford Circle, was responsible for similar break-ins at Calvary on Jan. 24 and Feb. 24. He was charged with three counts each of burglary, trespassing and related offenses.
Meanwhile, police are still searching for Sarah Higgins, 29, of the 200 block of Lafayette St. in Bristol for allegedly burglarizing St. Martha’s, at 11301 Academy Road.
Video recorded by several surveillance cameras there on Feb. 2 showed a woman attempting to enter several doors at about 7:50 p.m. She ultimately found an unlocked entrance and wandered into the basement, where proceeds from a recent book fair were being stored. The woman reportedly stole $1,700 and fled to a waiting car driven by another person.
Police did not say what information led them to suspect Higgins as the culprit. They issued a warrant for her arrest on Feb. 12. She remains at-large.
Higgins was described as white with fair skin, 5 feet 1 inch tall and 125 pounds, with dark shoulder-length hair. In the video, the thief wore a blue coat, gray shirt and black pants while carrying a dark pocketbook. Call 215–686-TIPS or text to PPD TIP to report information. ••