Police look to public for help catching church thieves

Tucked into the woods behind St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church is a grotto - a place for silent prayer open 24 hours a day.

"Some people come at 1, 2 a.m.," said Sally Barbat, church member. "Some people work late, they come after 12, 12:30, 1 a.m.  One time I came at 11 p.m. Now I'm scared to come late at night."

It is a sacred place to many, which is why it's so hard to believe someone would do something so invasive.

"This is God's house," Barbat said. "You over here to pray, not to steal."

It is a story FOX 2 first told you about, West Bloomfield police is sharing pictures of three men said to have broken into the grotto early Monday morning. 

The suspects first tried to fish out the donation money with a snow plow flag. When that didn't work, police say they came back with tools damaging the door to the collection box.

"There is Jesus over there, a big (statue) of Jesus," Barbat said. "I don't know how they had the guts to break that thing and take the money. Really it's sad. I was crying when father told me."

Parishioners say they likely got away with a lot of money due to the timing of the crime - donations tend to be up around the Easter holiday. And the money they stole was supposed to go overseas to help families in Iraq.

"You are going to be judged by God and you're not going to be happy in your life when you do this," Barbat said.

Police say that since the story first aired they have received a number of tips. So far no arrests have been made. 

Investigators say they are hoping more tips will come in or the people responsible turn themselves in.
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