Two charged with stealing collection box from Catholic church

Two men were charged with stealing from a Chaldean Catholic church's grotto.
In a story FOX 2 previously reported, thieves were caught on videotape stealing a collection box from a church in West Bloomfield.

After our story aired, police received lots of tips and now, two people are in custody.

Rani Dawoud and Dean Buchs faced a judge Friday charged with breaking and entering and safe breaking robbing the St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church..

A $100,000 bond was set for Dawoud, 30,  of West Bloomfield and Buchs, 43, of Detroit.

"The community is outraged as well as the police department that this happened," said Lt. Curt Lawson of the West Bloomfield police. 

Investigators say a surveillance video showed Dawoud and Buchs early Tuesday morning in the act.

"They actually try to fish money out of the slot," Lawson said. "Where the depository was for the donations, they get frustrated."

Police say the thieves left the grotto to get tools from Detroit, trying open the door, then leaving and returning a third time with power tools after noticing the safe encased in cement. 

They then unplugged the surveillance camera.

"When they returned the second time they had changed their clothes," Lawson said. "One of the suspects was wearing a Halloween mask of an old man. So originally we though there was only two suspects involved. When in fact there was only two."

Church members say the money stolen was supposed to go overseas to families in Iraq.

"Most people are going to be very offended by somebody who goes into a house of worship, a sacred place and takes money," said Mitchell Ribitwer, Dawoud's attorney.

Police say Dawoud, who has a admitted to knowing the safe was there, has a criminal history along with Buchs. Dawoud's attorney says his client also has a history of substance abuse and is remorseful.

"When his mind was clear, he met with the monsignor of the church," Ribitwer said. "He's made it right, he's paid all the restitution."

But as many still remain outraged and disappointed, West Bloomfield police say these guys are behind bars because a community stood up.

"We can't say enough about the community who called in the tips and helped us catch these guys," Lawson said.

As the two men are charged with breaking and entering, West Bloomfield police say with that safe breaking charge they face up to life in prison.

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