The RCMP are asking for the public's help in solving a recent string of brazen thefts from churches across southeastern New Brunswick.
Police have received 12 reports of break and enters and/or thefts between July 5 and July 21, Staff Sgt. Jeff Johnston, of the Riverview detachment, said in a statement.
Copper and other metals were stolen from the exterior of some churches, while money and valuables were stolen from the inside of others, he said.
Many of the thefts occurred during daylight hours, some of them on Sundays, said Johnston.
In some of the cases, the thieves caused property damage, he said.
"Due to the similarities between these incidents, such as when they're taking place and what's being stolen, we believe there is a good chance they may be related," said Johnston.
"If anyone recalls seeing suspicious activity around their local church, or has knowledge of someone who has come into the possession of what might be some of the stolen items, we'd like to hear from them."
Half of the dozen thefts occurred last Sunday. The targeted churches included:
- Saint-Michael's by the Sea Roman Catholic Church, Route 117, Miramichi Bay
- Carmel United Church, South Napan Road, Napan
- Saint-Joseph's Church, Route 126, Kent Junction
- Dorchester Baptist Church, Cape Road, Dorchester
- Saint-Antoine-de-Padoue Church, Route 505, Richibouctou-Village
- Main Street Baptist Church, Main Street, Sackville
Lack of respect
Pastor Danny Barrett, of Main Street Baptist Church, says he's glad nothing was damaged and no one got hurt.
But the church lost a Wii, a PlayStation 3, and a laptop belonging to the youth ministry.
Barrett says he's not surprised.
"In human nature and in our culture, the way we're leaning, the church is not viewed as important and the respect for church and what it stands for follows that trend as well," he said.
Father Normand Drisdelle, the parish priest for Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes Church in Memramcook, which was hit on July 14, believes the thief was looking for money.
"They went for the safe," and spent up to eight hours trying to get it open, according to a locksmith, he said.
In the end, the thief made off with two chalices, said Drisdelle.
The other incidents occurred at:
- Southfield United Church, Route 865, Southfield, between July 5 and 13
- Sacred Heart Church, Route 124, Norton, between July 10 and 11
- New Canaan United Baptist Church, Route 112, New Canaan, between July 14 and 17
- Notre-Dame-de-l'Annonciation Church, rue Principale, Memramcook, on July 17
- St. James Catholic Church, North Kouchibouguac Road, Kouchibouguac, on July 20
Anyone with information is asked to contact RCMP at 506-851-7997, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).