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Watch: Burglar breaks into Catholic school using crucifix

J-P Mauro - published on 09/01/22

After using the crucifix to smash in a window, the man can be seen gingerly placing the image of Christ in a respectful position.

Video of a recent break-in at a Los Angeles Catholic school shows the vandal smashing windows with a crucifix to gain entry. While the suspect has not been identified, police think he may be connected with several other burglaries at the same school.

The video, which has been circulating social media, shows footage of a break-in at St. Gertrude’s School in Bell Gardens on August 19. The security camera feed begins after the glass was smashed. The burglar can be seen removing the screen and climbing through, still holding the crucifix he used to knock out the glass.

Crucifix

Once inside, the man – who appears to be disheveled with his shirt dirty and torn – spends a moment in the room he entered before making his way deeper into the building. What’s fascinating, however, is that he seemed reluctant to just cast aside the crucifix. After using the crucifix as a makeshift crowbar to break in, the man spends precious moments trying to find it a nice spot.

First, he lays it down on the desk, but then he shifts it so that it’s propped up on the desk. As he starts to turn toward the door, the crucifix slips from this position, but the man then catches it and gingerly leans it up on the desk once more before he exits the frame.

The video is fraught with complexities that give rise to some interesting questions. Is it possible that this man was raised to the faith and that even in his desperation he can recognize the sanctity of the image of Christ? Did breaking into a Catholic space make him feel safe somehow?

We asked Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP, theologian and former Aleteia editor in chief, to weigh in on the bizarre series of events:

“Using a sacred image for a nefarious purpose is a sacrilege,” said Dominican Father Patrick Briscoe. “However, we don’t know his state of mind, and ought to hope that his reverence toward the image is a sign of his contrition.”

Investigation

Authorities say they have no leads on who the man might be, but in the report from Fox 11 featured above, the interviewed officer seemed confident that the footage may help identify him based on his tattoos. They are also investigating whether or not the same man was connected to several other school break-ins, which saw $4,800 in school trip funds stolen on one occasion. 

Follow the investigation from the Bell Garden Police Department’s Facebook page.

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