Nearly $4K stolen from Cape Breton church days before Christmas

Cape Breton police are investigating the theft of thousands of dollars from a church just days before Christmas.

“Violated is a good way to describe it,” said Father Patrick O’Neil, the parish priest at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Sydney River. “It’s sad that anybody would break into any building, but especially a church.”

O’Neil said he had just finished mass the evening of Sunday, Dec. 16, when he noticed something wasn’t right with the parish office door.

“The casing had been broken and cracked and obviously somebody had forced the door open,” he said. 

The cash was inside an envelope in the parish office. (Norma Jean MacPhee/CBC)

It wasn’t until the next morning that O’Neil and the parish secretary realized an envelope containing close to $4,000 was missing. The money had been raised at several fundraising concerts that were held that weekend.

Security cameras offer clues

O’Neil said security cameras in the church showed a man who O’Neil recognized. 

“This person in question — I know innocent until proven guilty — but if it is this person, he’s known to have done it before and probably will keep doing it unless someone … challenged him on that,” said O’Neil. “Especially the police which could maybe give you a little scare to change your ways, if possible.”

Fr. O’Neil says, ‘ultimately, I would like to see the person stop stealing.’ (Norma Jean MacPhee/CBC)

The video footage from the security cameras has been turned over to Cape Breton Regional Police.

O’Neil said he’s hoping for accountability and justice. 

“I don’t think the person in question is going to have anything left, or much, or we won’t get anything back,” said O’Neil. “I’m always open to the possibility that someone might say, ‘I’ve changed my mind. I want to ask for forgiveness,’ but regardless, we will recoup the loss through insurance if we have to.”

No arrests have been made so far.

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