Police warn churchgoers of vehicle burglaries in church parking - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Police warn churchgoers of vehicle burglaries in church parking lots

Surveillance photo of suspect Surveillance photo of suspect
PEORIA, Ariz. -

Sunday is usually a day of worship for valley residents that's spent inside a church, but it seems that it's also becoming a prime time for thieves.

The Peoria Police Department is warning churchgoers of a string of burglaries taking place while the victim is in church.

A spokesperson for the Peoria police department tells us several of these thefts have taken place in the past month. Personal and valuable items go missing from a victim's home while the owner is in church.

It isn't just happening in Peoria, the Phoenix Police Department, Surprise Police Department and even Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is on high alert.

Larry Laprarie is the elder on call this week at Reunion Church in Peoria.

He spent Sunday morning patrolling the parking lot, keeping an eye out for suspicious behavior.

"I already approached one guy that was sitting in his car with his motor and air conditioning running and I said, 'May I help you?'" said Laprarie.

Peoria police say thieves are targeting church's like Reunion and more specifically, the parked cars. They're using what they find inside to steal even more.

"It's pretty sad. It doesn't seem right that people would take advantage of people on a Sunday morning," said Cecelia Hofberger.

According to Peoria police, the suspect or suspects either break into a car or enter an unlocked vehicle they immediately grab a garage door opener, the address off the vehicle registration card and immediately head to the victim's house.

"In one case, we were able to get some surveillance video of a woman who tried to use a stolen credit card," said Amanda Jacinto, Peoria police spokesperson.

Jacinto says the woman in the picture used a credit card connected to one of the church burglaries.

Identifying her could lead to more information.

In the meantime, Laprarie says the vigilance won't stop even if someone is caught.

"I'm sure it's not just one group. I just don't think it's one group," said Laprarie.

Because the thefts are occurring in a number of jurisdictions, anyone with any information is asked to call their local police department.

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