Torah theft suspect had done handyman work at Monticello synagogue

| January 25, 2012

MONTICELLO – The Woodridge man charged with the theft of a $35,000 Torah from Landfield Avenue Synagogue had worked on several repair projects at the synagogue and had been sought for weeks for questioning, the congregation's rabbi said.

Chris Colvill, a registered sex offender who has served prison time for attempted sodomy and attempted assault, had called days before the theft looking for work at the synagogue, said Rabbi Ben-Zion Chanowitz. Colvill, 41, also contacted him with an updated phone number on Jan. 1, the day after the Torah was found missing, Chanowitz said.

“I didn't think anything bad of him,” Chanowitz said. “I thought he was a nice person.”

The Torah was stolen sometime between the night of Dec. 30 and the morning of Dec. 31. Chanowitz arrived in the morning to find his office and the synagogue secretary's office tossed, with $200 in charity funds missing.

The rabbi also found empty one of three Holy Arks used to store the Torah, which was purchased a decade ago following a year-long fund-raising campaign.

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Category: Synagogue/Jewish Security

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