Tuesday 03 Aug 2021

Burglars target Panaji, St Cruz churches, decamp with cash

THE GOAN NETWORK | JULY 23, 2021, 12:48 AM IST

OLD GOA

Burglars targetted the churches in Panaji and Santa Cruz in the wee hours of Thursday and while cash of about Rs 3,000 was reported stolen from the Panaji church office, there was no cash kept in the office at the Santa Cruz Church.

Suspicions have now been raised that burglaries at both churches could be related given that both had occurred during the same night.

ST CRUZ CHURCH

A burglar broke into the Santa Cruz church office in the wee hours of Thursday by breaking the door lock.

However, the burglar had to return empty handed as there was no cash kept in the office.

Speaking to reporters about the incident, Parish Priest Fr Ricardo Pinheiro said he noticed that the office door lock was broken at around 5 am.

“I immediately called up local MLA Tony Fernandes, former MLA Victor Gonsalves and then the Old Goa police,” Fr Pinheiro said.

“The Old Goa police came and did their investigation,” he stated.

“Our office is located on the ground floor and our rooms are on the first floor. Since we do not keep any cash in the office, the burglar was not able to steal anything even though we found the drawers were opened,” the priest added.

He further said a computer disc was removed by the burglar thinking that it contained CCTV footage.

“The entire church is under CCTV surveillance with 16 CCTV cameras installed at various points and the burglar is clearly seen in some,” Fr Pinheiro stated.

“After viewing CCTV footage, it came to my mind that a similar person had come on Wednesday afternoon and made a recce of the place which I pointed to the police who also agreed that it is the same person,” he added and requested the police to catch the culprit so that such incidents are not repeated.

A police dog squad was pressed in service to track the movement of the accused. The dog apparently went towards the church’s backyard from where the culprit could have gained entry inside the church building. The forensic team too arrived to gain vital clues in the case.

PANAJI CHURCH

In a similar incident which bore striking similarity with the Santa Cruz church burglary, the Immaculate Conception Church at Panaji was also targeted by burglars in the wee hours of Thursday, with cash of Rs 3,000 being reported stolen.

Speaking to The Goan, Parish Priest of Panjim Church Fr Walter de Sa informed he went to the dining room and opened the gate in the morning as usual.

“To the left of the dining room is the office and I noticed that the glass door was broken and from outside clearly saw the keys and books lying around,” Fr De Sa said.

“I informed this to my assistant priest. Later, we celebrated Mass and then complained to the police. The police came immediately and did the panchanama. The dog squad was pressed into service as also the forensic team which collected fingerprints,” Fr De Sa stated and informed that the CCTV footage was also taken for evidence.

“Fortunately, we don’t keep much money in the office. However, some petty cash of around Rs 3,000 was stolen,” the priest added.

“We also have another office, the door latch of which was found broken and papers and other things thrown around,” he informed.

He said the incident might have happened at around 12.30 am.

“Our security had gone to check at around 12 am but had noticed nothing,” Fr De Sa said.


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