By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE — A visitor to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church left with more than an Easter blessing last Sunday.
A man stole a bank bag containing between $8,000 and $10,000 in offerings from the 8 a.m. Mass of the Resurrection. The money was believed to be taken between 9:25 and 9:45 a.m. that day.
The Rev. Walter J. Ptak told police he had placed the bag into a covered basket in the priest’s sacristy before going out to talk to some of the 1,000 parishioners who attended that day. When he came back, the bag was missing.
He said he had heard footsteps in the hall behind the sacristy but didn’t think much of it.
A witness said a white man in his 40s about 5 feet to 5 feet 2 inches tall entered the church and headed toward the altar boys’ sacristy. She asked him if she could assist him, and he told her he wanted to speak with the priest; then headed toward a hall in the rear of the church.
The woman said she did not recognize the man as a parishioner. He was dressed in a waist-length brown jacket and brown or beige pants and had dark-colored hair.
The police report said that description is very close to that of a suspect involved in a string of similar thefts from churches in Dearborn and Detroit. Some of those thefts involved a man dressed as a priest.
“We have a few leads we’re following up on, but there’s nothing concrete yet,” Wyandotte Police Chief Daniel Grant said. “We can’t show any ties between any of the other ones yet.”
The Archdiocese of Detroit sent an advisory to each of its 273 parishes days before Easter warning them of the suspicious activity.