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Video released in Philadelphia convent burglaries case

October 19, 2012 2:19:16 PM PDT
Philadelphia police have released surveillance video as they investigate two burglaries at a convent in the Grays Ferry section.

The video, released on Friday afternoon, shows at least three people police want to question. The video shows them walking down the street at the time of the burglaries.

VIDEO: Watch the surveillance video on phillypolice.com.

"The second video shows a male with a white envelope in his hands, and we ask that the public look at that video very closely and let us know if they recognize the male or any other males captured on video on or about the time the convent was burglarized," said Capt. Larry Nodiff of the Philadelphia Police.

Action News showed the surveillance video to the sisters of the convent.

"To be honest, when the whole thing happened, I never thought they would catch these kids," said Sister Mary Gregory. "I do have hope now that they will."

The most recent burglary happened at 3:32 a.m. Thursday at the Saint Gabriel's Convent in the 2900 block of Dickinson Street.

Police say the burglar took $760 in cash, including $60 from a nun's purse, $600 for altar servers, and another $100 for Christmas gifts for needy children. The money was in envelopes stored in a filing cabinet.

"Maybe we're an easy target, I don't know," said Sister Mary Gregory on Thursday. "But it's just so hard to believe when it happens to you."

The first burglary happened at 1:45 a.m. on Wednesday. Police say someone entered through an unlocked front window and took $70 from Sister Mary's purse.

The sisters said they heard the alarm, but didn't realize money was missing until hours later.

"I left to go do some shopping for the sisters and when I went to open my purse, there was no money in my purse," said Sister Mary.

Police later found that another $160, designated for children's Catholic education classes, was also missing.

Parishioners are outraged.

"I am at wit's end," said Bonnie Clancy of South Philadelphia. "You can't get any lower than that.

The community is coming out in support of the nuns, leaving donations to replace what was lost. One anonymous donor dropped off $300 in an envelope, while another gave $150. Pat Murray stopped by with her own envelope for the nuns.

"They've given our children everything. They've given us so much, and for someone to do this? God forgive them," Murray said.

"People haven't stopped leaving us donations," said Sister Mary. "It just touches my heart to think they would think of us that way."

Investigators believe the burglar may be familiar with the convent, saying the person found the keys to the filing cabinet, took the money and then relocked the cabinet before leaving.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Philadelphia Police at 215-686-TIPS (8477), text a tip to PPD TIP (773847) or through phillypolice.com.


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