Crook caught on camera stealing money from church candle boxes

WESTERLY, R.I. (WPRI) — A person in dark glasses and a hood was captured on camera over the weekend stealing money from a Westerly church, according to the church’s pastor.

Rev. Giacomo Capoverdi of Immaculate Conception Church on High Street in Westerly first posted the alleged thief’s photos on his personal Facebook page Monday morning, asking Westerly residents to help identify the person.

When parishioners wish to symbolize their prayer, they light a candle at the church’s candle rack and can leave a small offering in a box to help pay for the votive candles. But the thief allegedly took the cash from deposit boxes.

Capoverdi told Eyewitness News a parishioner saw the woman acting suspiciously on Friday, and when he checked surveillance tapes, he saw her using what appeared to be a long wire to fish money out of collection boxes. Capoverdi believes she stole $10 to $15, but thinks she’s stolen from the church before. He said a church employee recognized the woman.

“She noticed that she was someone who frequents the church at times,” he said. “And she thought she looked suspicious when she saw her about a month ago near the church.”

The surveillance video shows the woman, wearing a hooded coat and glasses, making the sign of the cross before entering the church. The video then shows the woman fishing bills from two collection boxes. Capoverdi said what pains him most is that the woman could have just asked for help.

“Last year we gave away about $96,000 to people in need,” he said. Capoverdi said the church gave away gift cards and helped people buy groceries and pay bills. He also said the church offers a food pantry three times a week.

“I just think it’s very sad that someone would come into a church and would try to manipulate the boxes and take money,” Capoverdi said. “I felt like I needed to pray for her if she’s that desperate, and I told the parishioners, too, that we need to pray for her as well.”

Westerly Police said they are investigating the incident. Anyone with information is urged to contact police.