Burglar steals money from Long Island church donation boxes

LAKE RONKONKOMA, Suffolk County (WABC) -- Police are searching for the man who stole money from a Long Island church.

Video shows the burglar inside St. Joseph's Church in Lake Ronkonkoma, where the thief can be seen breaking donation boxes on the wall to get the cash.

"I'm very upset," parishioner Jackie Aiello said. "But I don't know why this gentleman did it."

Parishioners say it came as a shock, as the thief broke into not one poor box, not two or three, but all six of them, stealing perhaps as much as $200 in less than 15 minutes.

Pastor Mike Rieder says the thief used some sort of tool to pry open each of the metal boxes, one by one, around 5:15 p.m. on June 14 -- when the sanctuary was unlocked but likely deserted.

Fr. Mike says the thief does not look familiar, but he hopes someone can recognize the man so he can get help.

"That's the reason I would love to see the person caught by the police, so that they can get legitimate help," he said. "Not for the sake of punishment, but that maybe they can get connected to, if it's a drug issue, they can get into some sort of rehab. If it's some sort of other issue, they can get real assistance. That's what we're about."

But for puzzled parishioners, there was a sense of despair.

"It makes me feel sad," Aiello said. "To me, it's sad."

Fr. Mike says police have recovered additional video from other cameras, but they have been unable to identify a suspect, at least not so far.

Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Anyone with information about these incidents can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-800-220-TIPS, texting "SCPD" and your message to "CRIMES" (274637) or by email at TipSubmit.com.

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