Thieves broke into St. Mary’s In-the-Valley Episcopal church Monday afternoon, April 14, stealing a metal safe with currency, all the silver for communion and other items, said church officials.
“They knew what they were doing. It was fast,” said the Rev. Gwynn Freund.
According to the sheriff’s Ramona station, two suspects were caught on video surveillance.
“Prints were obtained and photographs from surveillance video,” said Sgt. Ken Jones.
The burglary occurred around 3:30 p.m., he said. It was discovered by parishioners who arrived about 5:30 p.m. to count money in the safe from worship services. Freund said the first thing they saw was an office chair sitting in the parking lot. That chair was used to wheel the safe to a waiting vehicle, said authorities.
Jones said a suspect is seen on the video making two trips to a white SUV in the parking lot where a male, who appeared to be in his mid-30s to early 40s, was waiting. The other suspect, who appeared to have red or pink hair, made two trips — one wheeling out the safe and the other carrying a box, according to reports.
Entry to the church building known as The Haven, where the sacristy, classrooms and kitchen are located, was done by breaking a window and climbing through, said Freund. A hammer was used to break into locked doors inside, she noted.
Among the silver stolen were items “that had been donated in memory of loved ones,” said Freund.
Also taken were three irons used when making prayer quilts and classroom supplies, the pastor added.
“They also stole the sacred wines,” said Marisa Ponce de Leon, who serves as people’s warden at the church.
“It’s just a bad deal during Holy Week,” Ponce de Leon noted.
The safe was stolen from the church office in a modular building where glass in a door was broken to gain entry, Freund said.
No estimate of stolen property has been determined, said the sheriff’s department, and the incident is under investigation.
In other reports filed at the sheriff’s Ramona station:
Sunday, April 13
•Male, 41, arrested, 23700 block state Route 78, battery to spouse/ex-spouse/date.
Saturday, April 12
•Male, 26, victim of assault with firearm, Rancho Santa Teresa Drive at SR-78.
•Vehicle burglary and vandalism $400 or less, 1800 block Main Street, $60 purse, $40 worth of cosmetics and $25 worth of clothing.
•Commercial burglary and Get Credit with another’s identification, 1400 block Montecito Road, $60 purse, $400 cash/papers, $200 cell phone, ID and credit cards.
•Male, 25, arrested, 1500 block Montecito Road, drunk in public.
Friday, April 11
•Unlawful sexual intercourse with minor, 15800 block SR-78, occurred Dec. 31, 2013.
Thursday, April 10
•Female, 43, arrested, 900 block D Street, misdemeanor other agency’s warrant.
•Male, 22, arrested, B Street, possess narcotic controlled substance and possess unlawful paraphernalia.
•Male, 29, arrested, 100 block Los Banditos Drive, drunk in public.
Wednesday, April 9
•Female, 95, victim of residential burglary, 1100 block Creelman Lane, $300 ring, $300 watch, $10 box. Occurred between Nov. 1, 2013 and March 1.
•Male, 18, arrested, 3300 block state Route 67, battery with serious bodily injury.
Tuesday, April 8
•Male, 62, arrested, 1800 block Main Street, disorderly conduct: lodge without consent.
Monday, April 7
•Commercial burglary and vandalism, 1300 block Ashley Road, wall damage $500, miscellaneous damage estimated at $500. Occurred between April 4 and 7.
•Male, 54, arrested 700 block Main Street, use/under the influence of controlled substance.
•Annoying phone call: obscene/threatening, 1400 block Montecito Road.
•Vandalism to wall, estimated at $100, Vista Hill, 1000 block Main Street.
Sunday, April 6
•Female, 51, arrested, 24200 block Del Amo Road, spousal/cohabitant abuse with minor injury.
Friday, April 4
•Male, 24, arrested, 1800 block Main Street, forge/alter vehicle registration.