OLD SAYBROOK — The three suspects probably never really had a prayer of getting away.
The trio fled the church where they allegedly stole items while parishioners took communion on Saturday, but officers caught them a short way away from St. John’s Roman Catholic Church, police said.
One of the thefts occurred Friday when a woman attending a wedding at the church at 161 Main St. had her purse stolen while she took communion; the second occurred Saturday evening when a woman’s wallet was stolen from her purse when she left her seat for the communion rite, police said.
In the wake of the incidents at St. John’s, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Hartford said Sunday that, in the times in which we live, it’s probably a good idea for churchgoers to take their valuables with them even when they just leave their seats for a few moments to take communion.
"A word to the wise: when you go to church, keep an eye on your belongings," said the Rev. John P. Gatzak, "or when you go up for communion, have someone watch your belongings — maybe a family member who is staying in their seat…
"I think this is indicative of the times in which we live and … of the economy that we are in…" Gatzak said. "This is symptomatic of the world in which we live, that we can no longer do this…I think this is a lesson for all of us that we need to be cautious and it probably says something about the needs of the people" who were involved in the alleged theft.
Gatzak said people are desperate for money, so they resort to stealing.
"One of the safest places you should feel comfortable in is in church, but there’s no one at the door of the church making sure that all the people who come in the church are there for the right reasons."
That said, "I can’t recall an instance where this has happened," Gatzak said.
He conceded, however, there may well have been other instances in which "it might not hit the papers or it might not get any publicity," he said.
Old Saybrook Police Chief Michael Spera said, "This brazen act in a church is simply unacceptable," said Police Chief Michael A. Spera, "I commend the quick action of our dispatchers and patrol officers."
Officers who went to the church on a report of a theft Saturday stopped the vehicle the suspects were in after a "brief" pursuit, police said. There was evidence of the crime in the car and the three suspects confessed to the thefts, police said. Officers also found narcotics in the vehicle, police said.
Suspect Michelle G. Conklin-Chadwick, 28, of 518 Boston Post Road, Wallingford, is charged with sixth-degree larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny, illegal possession of narcotics, and failure to keep prescription in a proper container. She is being held in lieu of $3,500 bail, police said.
Suspect Teresa Lessa, 36, of 179 Boston Post Road, East Lyme, is charged with sixth-degree larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny and interfering with police. Police also found an active arrest warrant for Lessa charging her with failure to appear in court, operating under suspension and failure to yield right of way. Lessa is being held in lieu of $10,000 bail.
The third suspect, George Hartman, 56, of 291 Flanders Road, Old Lyme, is charged with conspiracy to commit larceny, illegal possession of narcotics, and failure to keep prescription in proper container. He is free on $2,500 bail and is scheduled to appear in the Middletown Superior Court on Sept. 28, police said.
Police said the three suspects are likely to face additional charges in coming days as the department will apply for arrest warrants for similar crimes committed earlier in the week at St. John’s.
While Rev. Gatzak did not know the specific circumstances of the people arrested in the Old Saybrook case, the fact that so many people are in difficult fiscal straits right now is one reason for the Archdiocese’s Annual Appeal and Emergency Assistance Fund, he said.
"It’s part of what the archdiocese is doing to help the people who actually are in difficult situations," Gatzak said.
When difficulties arise, "a parishioner can go to his parish priest and say ‘I am in danger of losing my home because I can’t pay my mortgage or I can’t pay my rent,’ or ‘I don’t have the money to repair my car,’ and a priest can have them apply to the Catholic Charities" for help, he said.
SOURCE and Read More:
If the link is dead or no longer live please email us at [email protected] for assistance.
Category: Church Security