One Sunday morning this month, as worshipers streamed into the Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, police officers inspected shattered glass and took note of an air-conditioner that had been pulled from a wall, clues in the theft of a few hundred dollars from the church’s coffers.
The church is one of 11 in southwestern Brooklyn, in and around Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and Sunset Park, that have been burglarized over the last two months. The police say they believe the same person or persons is behind the break-ins, but they have not yet identified a suspect.
In one of the churches, a jacket was left behind; investigators said that was their best clue so far. Laptop computers, cameras and money have been the primary targets of the thefts, while valuable religious items have been left alone.
The pastor of Fourth Avenue Presbyterian, David Aja-Sigmon, stood in a baseball cap and jeans in the church’s basement Wednesday morning amid artificial Christmas trees and other ornaments on sale as part of a fund-raiser — planned long before the break-in — for church charities.
Referring to the church’s losses, Mr. Aja-Sigmon said: “It’s not really about the money. We felt that this was more a violation of our community.”
Whoever has been burglarizing the churches has not focused on any one denomination, striking a Roman Catholic basilica, a Methodist sanctuary and a Pentecostal storefront, among others.
Mr. Aja-Sigmon said that the money stolen from his church was from the children’s offering and from his discretionary fund, which he kept in his office and used to give to people who come to the door and “who need a little help.”
Helen Graham, one of his parishioners, said she had been at the church on Nov. 9, and saw the broken glass and the police.
“It came as an insult to us,” she said. “More than the material losses, we lost a sense of safety.”
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SOURCE: The New York Times