A Lindenhurst man has been accused of breaking into a church and stealing hundreds of dollars in donations. The incident took place in Lindenhurst's Our Lady of Perpetual Help church on 210 South Wellwood Avenue. The man snuck in through a side window and robbed the church multiple times.
The suspect, Leonard DeGaetano, 43, stole from poor boxes and candle donations. Monsignor Joseph DeGrocco says DeGaetano started his plot to enter the church during the day and finally went in at night.
“Apparently, he would just sit there, and at some point, I guess, unlock the window – leave it closed, but unlocked so he could push it; wriggle his way in. ” DeGrocco told CBS News.
He hid his identity by wearing a hood and surgical mask. When DeGaetano finally made his way inside the church he would use an object with a hook on it to steal the money. “Something akin to maybe like a hanger with tweezers on the end of it, and he would reach into the candle box and pull the money out,” the Monsignor said.
The Monsignor was surprised to see who the culprit was as DeGaetano was a longtime member of the church. Police finally caught the man after surveillance cameras and a stakeout caught the alleged thief.
DeGaetano was arrested and charged with two counts of Burglary in the Third Degree for committing the same crime twice, and Possession of Burglar’s tools. The investigation is continuing. Detectives are asking anyone with information about these thefts to contact the First Squad at 631-854-8152 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will remain anonymous.