Two women steal Sacramento County church’s Easter offerings

| April 5, 2010

Two women pulled a pray and dash at a local church, showing up as guests, then making off with the collection totaling thousands of dollars in Easter offerings, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department.

Like most churches, the Church of the Nazarene on Arden Way was enjoying a packed house for Easter. Longtime parishioner and former state Assemblyman Larry Bowler said there were many extra guests and occasional churchgoers.

According to sheriff's deputies, two guests were spotted in the church office about 11:20 a.m. But before staff could verify whether they had permission to be there, the women were gone – along with between $10,000 and $20,000 in cash and checks.

Such crimes against churches are "quite unusual," said Capt. Scott Jones.

Over the last two years, eight churches have been robbed, according to a Bee analysis of law enforcement and business records of houses of worship in Sacramento, Rancho Cordova, Roseville, Elk Grove and unincorporated Sacramento County.

"They are usually not huge targets," Jones said, noting that theft by church members is more common.

The women – described as African Americans in their 20s – left in a faded black '80s sedan, Jones said. One was wearing a purple shirt, the other a black shirt, Jones said. No arrests have been made.

Church members who made an offering with a check during the early service have been advised to stop payment.

Church treasurer Albert Seltzer said he didn't think it was the women's first visit to the church.

"To me it had to have been planned," Seltzer said. "They have probably been here before and know the layout of the church."

Bowler was most struck by the timing of the theft.

"To steal from anyone is an outrage. To steal from a church is a double outrage and to steal from a church on Easter Sunday – that is beyond outrage," Bowler said.

He said if the women needed food, it was available. The church operates a food closet, feeding hundreds of people weekly.

"These gals didn't want food," Bowler said. "They wanted cash."

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Category: Church Security