‘Bizarre’ burglary at Seattle parish

Thieves broke into several file cabinets and stole roughly $4,000 in charitable donations from Seattle’s Holy Rosary Church late March 28. Photo: Courtesy Holy Rosary Parish Thieves broke into several file cabinets and stole roughly $4,000 in charitable donations from Seattle’s Holy Rosary Church late March 28. Photo: Courtesy Holy Rosary Parish

SEATTLE – Father Matthew Oakland was just settling into an Easter Week vacation at his parents’ house when he got a call early Tuesday, March 29. The office at Holy Rosary Church in West Seattle, where he is the pastor, had been robbed the night before.

“One of my staff members arrived and discovered the office was a mess,” Father Oakland said.

The thieves broke in through a window and stole roughly $4,000 that students at the parish school collected during Lent for a Ugandan mission, Catholic Relief Service’s Rice Bowl program and other charities. Keys, a phone charger and headphones were also taken.

Father Oakland said insurance would cover the stolen donations and the roughly $2,000 in damage, but probably not the full cost of rekeying the campus’ 80 doors, which he expects will be more than $4,000.

The thieves broke into several locked file cabinets and rifled through some of them, Father Oakland explained in the parish’s April 3 bulletin.

The thieves tried and failed to crack the office safe, then apparently attempted to make off with it — also unsuccessfully. They would have been disappointed anyway, Father Oakland said. “We don’t actually keep money in our safe; we keep sacramental records.”

This was clearly not an Ocean’s Eleven-caliber heist — the thieves even stopped for a snack mid-robbery.

“We have these little ‘Lunches of Love’ that we hand out to homeless people who come, and so they helped themselves to a lunch while they were here — that was kind of amusing,” Father Oakland said. “They left the bottle of juice behind.”

The burglars also left behind their tools, including a saw and bolt cutters, and neglected to take several gift cards that were in plain sight, as well as a new computer waiting to be installed, the pastor noted.

“It was bizarre,” Father Oakland said. “They opened every nook and cranny, but passed over some of the valuables. So I don’t understand it, but I guess that’s OK because I’m not a thief.”

This story has been edited.

Kevin Birnbaum

Kevin Birnbaum is the interim editor/associate publisher of Northwest Catholic and a member of Seattle’s Blessed Sacrament Parish. Contact him at Kevin.Birnbaum@seattlearch.org.