Church's collection plate money swiped from office

Police have no suspects

cpride@losbanosenterprise.comFebruary 24, 2012 

A local church was robbed of its collection money last week.

On Feb. 21 at 8:43 a.m.the Los Banos Police Department responded to a report of a robbery at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on the 1500 block of Center Avenue.

Police said a church representative told them that sometime during the previous evening someone broke into a church office and stole several thousands of dollars.

The money was in the office after being collected from parishioners during the weekend.

The Rev. Robert Gamel said it’s the first time in his three years at the church that such a robbery has occurred. He believes it may be the first time in the church’s history.

“The reality of what is going on in this area is crime is at an all-time high,” Gamel said. “We’re just one of the many victims. Obviously they don’t give a hoot if you are a religious organization.”

Police said no suspects have been arrested.

“This is especially disheartening because of where the theft occurred. I’m sure the church would be very grateful if someone would come forward and provide information concerning this crime or if the suspects would return what they took,” Cmdr. Ray Reyna Jr. said.

To leave an anonymous crime tip call 209-827-7070 Ext. 288. If you have access to a computer and the internet you can also leave an anonymous tip at the Police Departments web page at At the bottom of the “Contact” page simply click on the “report graffiti and other crime” link or visit the Merced Area Crime Stoppers by telephone at 1-855-725-2420, or at

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