Willimantic police are increasing patrols near the 23 churches in the city after a rash of burglaries at houses of worship and they are.asking for the public's help to identify the people responsible.
There have been five burglaries at Willimantic churches since June 5, police said.
Just hours before Sunday service, Calvary Baptist Church on Mansfield Avenue in Willimantic was burglarized. It appears the suspect broke in through the back door window, now covered up with a piece of wood. This was just one of four other churches in the area that was targeted this month by thieves.
"Whoever is doing it should be absolutely ashamed of themselves. It's disgusting," Elizabeth Dunnack, of Willimantic, said.
The other churches include Holy Trinity Orthodox Church on Valley Street, which was burglarized on Saturday; Ebenezer Lutheran Church off North Street, which was burglarized on June 15; and St. Mary's Ukrainian Catholic Church on Oak Street which has been hit twice, once on June 5 and again on June 14.
Police said burglars stole $2,500 out of the church collection basket during one burglary at St. Mary's.
Neighbors say the theives are stealing from people in need.
"We are very giving here. We work hard for our money we want it to stay in the community, that's why it's there," Maria Gonzalez Harris, of Willimantic, said.
Not even 24 hours later, Ebenezer Lutheran Church was broken into. Church officials told me that the suspect left a trail of damage, kicking down the doors of two offices. They said the suspect broke into two safes, but only got away with $20 there.
On Saturday, Holy Trinity Orthodox Church was the target. Church workers said the suspect may have left drops of blood at the scene. Police wouldn't confirm that, but said they have some leads and have made this case a priority.
The churches were accessed in different ways, but the burglaries all happened overnight.
Police have stepped up patrols around the churches and are asking neighbors to keep an eye out at the 23 churches in town to help catch any burglars in the act.
Police are investigating the burglaries separately and have not tied them together at this time.
Police have identified no suspects and ask anyone with information to call Willimantic Police at 860 465 3135. Information callers give will remain confidential.
"If you see anybody around the churches, especially late at night, just call the police department. We’ll come down, ID these people that might be hanging around the churches. They’re all closed at night, so there shouldn’t be anybody in or around these churches," Cpl. Stanley F. Parizo Jr, of the /Willimantic Police Department, said.