Shelby Township church's safe cracked, almost $50,000 stolen

Shelby Township church's safe cracked, almost $50,000 stolen

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The safe at St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church in Shelby Township was cracked after Easter Sunday services. The safe at St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church in Shelby Township was cracked after Easter Sunday services.
SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WJBK) -

St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church in Shelby Township was robbed of tens of thousands of dollars after Easter Sunday services.

"This is a professional group of thieves, safe crackers that knew what they were doing," said Shelby Township Police Chief Roland Woelkers.

The thieves came through a side door, beelined straight to the office and busted a door open.  They drilled through the safe and got away with almost $50,000.

"That does seem a little odd because it's not in a usual place.  None of the other offices were disturbed," said Linda MacCarone, a church official.

Also stolen were at least two chalices valued between $500 and $1,000 each and a number of donation kits children used to collect money for the poor.

"Our children collect what's called rice bowls during Lent and they put their change in.  We had probably 500 of those out to families.  We don't know how many were actually in the vault," MacCarone explained.

It is the third church to be robbed in a month, and police say at least two of the robberies are connected.

Police would not confirm it, but church officials said evidence left at the scene could crack the case that will land someone in jail for 50 years.

"They found what appears to be a lock picking device of some kind that they said has a serial number on it, so they're hoping they'll be able to trace that," MacCarone said.

"We have not been able to identify any suspects or vehicles involved.  We just basically have some physical evidence at the scene we're trying to work on that we're going to send to the Michigan State Police Crime Lab," Woelkers said.

The money had not been deposited because there were six services on Easter Sunday, so the cash was still being counted.  We're told the church is now looking for a new deposit system and plans to install a new surveillance system.

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