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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bronx Crime Watch: Another Church Hit in String of Robberies

A sixth Bronx church was burglarized this weekend, the latest in a string of break-ins targeting churches in the area since the start of November.

Someone broke into an office window at the Church of the Mediator, on West 231st Street and Kingsbridge Avenue, late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, according to senior warden Frank Holsapple and the NYPD.

The thief, or thieves, made off with several recently donated laptop computers and about $800 in cash, money the church was collecting for a Christmas toy drive.

"They hit every church around here, and I guess we were the last stop," Holsapple  said, adding that the burglar or burglars wrecked the office that they broke into but were unable to access the rest of the church, as the room was securely locked.

"They went out the way they came in," he said. "It could have been a lot worse."

A police spokeswoman said that they have no description of the perpetrator so far, and the investigation is ongoing.

Other churches that have been hit since early November include Our Lady of Refuge on 194th Street and Briggs Avenue, St. Ann’s Church on Bainbridge Avenue, Kingsbridge Evangelical Lutheran Church on Bailey Avenue, St. John’s Church on Kingsbridge Avenue, and Our Lady of Angels on Claflin Avenue.

"We're still edgy," said Father Antonio Zabala of St. John's Church. "They were able to break in through the window even though it has bars on it. These robbers are really professional crooks, and are really dangerous."

Church leaders say one silver lining has been the public's response as news of the burglaries spread.

"It's been overwhelming," said Father John Jenik of Our Lady of Refuge Church, which lost two laptops, a video camera and $1,300 in cash after a break-in at the end of November.

"We've gotten four laptop computers and over $15,000 in donations," he said.

Jenik says the parish will use the money towards repairing damages from the burglary and for tuition assistance, and to invest in a new alarm system for the church.

"We know how they got in, and it was easy for them," he said. "We have certainly tightened up security around here."


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