Money stolen from NE Philadelphia Catholic school's book fair

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Police in Northeast Philadelphia are looking for the person who stole money from a school's book fair.

Police in Northeast Philadelphia are looking for the person who stole money from a school's book fair. The funds were supposed to go to support the library.

The teachers and parents at St. Martha's Parish School, who worked tirelessly on this book fair, said it wasn't just money that was stolen, but the promise of books for next year's curriculum and the children's trust that their school is a safe place.

Principal Karen Donofry said, "Shame on you. Shame on you. Why would you do this?"

The why and the who are still a mystery, but the thief who nabbed a $1,000 raised for the student's library has left the parish school on Academy Road in disbelief and sadness.

Librarian Rennie Baker tells us, "It's a very safe place. It's a safe area, it's a safe neighborhood, church. And I don't want that taken away because this happened, because someone was mean enough to steal from little children."

Surveillance video shows a woman getting out of the passenger side of a silver colored car around 8 p.m. Tuesday night. She approaches the building, but the first set of doors she tries is locked. Minutes later she jogs to the rectory doors, which are open for choir practice.

The camera inside the building shows her going downstairs - the same stairs that lead to the Parish Hall where the book fair was held and where Rennie Baker said she left the money on a table in a lock box.

Philadelphia Police Lt. Dennis Rosenbaum says, "Obviously she didn't know her way around the building. Maybe she was directed to go there and get the cash because someone knew it was there. We are definitely working that angle of it."

One parent, Maria Gilbert, tells us, "It's just surprising. It's Catholic Schools Week, we are a church and it's just horrible that anybody would steal money from a book fair."

It has been a difficult few days for students who look forward to the book fair every year, and who are struggling to understand why anyone would steal from young children.

"Everyone feels violated. Our little kiddies are walking around talking about it," said Baker.

Neither the principal nor the librarian recognizes the woman in the video or believes she was ever at the book fair. But the event is advertised on the church website and bulletin.

If you have any info please call police immediately.
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burglarycatholic schoolsurveillance videophilly newsNortheast Philadelphia
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