Investigators from the Sangre Grande CID are searching for the lone bandit caught on surveillance camera robbing three parishioners at the St Francis of Assisi RC Church, on August 4th.
This was revealed in a telephone interview with parish priest Msgr Michael de Verteuil, August 8. One male bandit entered the church grounds at 5.45 a.m. and robbed three parishioners, including the sacristan as they waited for the church to open for 6.30 a.m. Mass.
According to Msgr de Verteuil, the bandit announced that he had a gun covered under a red bandana then proceeded to relieve them of a small amount of cash, a cell phone, a chain and ring. Contrary to media reports, no church collection was stolen.
Not wanting to downplay the seriousness of the incident, Msgr de Verteuil said although the amount stolen was “minor” it was a traumatic experience for the people involved.
When asked about the mood of the congregation, Msgr de Verteuil affirmed “there is not too much fear” adding that parishioners are taking it in “stride” but also cognisant of the severity of the incident. He said there was discussion in the congregation on security measures to be implemented.
Expressing concern for the recent spate of robberies at churches, including at the St Francis of Assisi RC, Vicar General Msgr Christian Pereira maintained that the Archdiocese will not do anything “that is too drastic [that] will betray the image of the Church,” he said during a CNC3 report, August 7. He added, “There’s a lot of little things going on all over the place,” as he revealed the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was also robbed of plants and cash a few weeks ago.
“How much could you do? The society is besieged by vandals and people who are seeking what they might consider an easy way of living. How much could we do?”
Msgr Pereira encouraged the faithful to be more vigilant, asserting that the Church cannot be made into “mini prisons” or be “too heavily secured.”
In June, bandits tied up Fr Clyde Harvey, ransacked the St Martin de Porres RC Church, Gonzales presbytery and took $1000, his mobile phone and other items from the church before making their escape. – KJ