Peoria might be breeding a new criminal bottom-feeder: Slimeballs who steal from old ladies at church.
Peoria might be breeding a new criminal bottom-feeder:
Slimeballs who steal from old ladies at church.
There are worse crimes than theft. But I can't think of anyone lower than a sleazebag who would prey on those who pray.
It's happened twice recently. The latest occurred during the noon hour at Sacred Heart Church. Daily mass starts at 12:05 p.m. and runs until about 12:40 p.m.
One of the regular attendees is a 84-year-old Peoria woman. She was late that day, however, so she didn't go into the sanctuary. Rather, she stepped into a grotto just inside the front doors, where visitors can light candles and pray.
The woman has had a lot on her mind lately, says her daughter. She has been concerned about America. So that day she put her handbag on a pew, got down on her knees, closed her eyes and talked to God.
"It was specific that day: the president, the election," the daughter says. "She has been praying for the country."
When she opened her eyes, she noticed her purse had vanished. She was a bit startled, but didn't sweat it too much. As far as valuables, the purse contained only an ATM card and a small amount of cash.
"The bag was more important, because she had pictures of her family in there," the daughter says.
She didn't get the bag back. But she did get a small sense of justice.
Right after the pilfering, she talked to church personnel, who called police and reviewed a security videotape. Indeed, the theft had been recorded.
The next day, church workers spotted a gal who looked like the thief on tape. During a free church lunch, she was asking around for spare money. The church called police, who arrested Lolita Brown, 56. She was charged only with misdemeanor theft, because the value of the purse was less than $300.
Meanwhile, the 84-year-old is undaunted by the crime: she still attends daily Mass at Sacred Heart.
"She won't stop going to church," her daughter says with a chuckle.
Another church heist occurred a week before outside Christ Lutheran Church. Late one Sunday afternoon, it held a meeting for folks interested in going on a on church-sponsored trip.
At the meeting was a 67-year-old grandma and her husband. She'd grown up in the South End and attended the church as a youth. She and her husband live in California, but they visit kin regularly in Peoria, and she likes to mingle with old friends at her childhood church.
After the meeting, the couple walked through the parking lot. A man approached, and she thought he wanted to talk with her. Instead, he grabbed her purse and started to run.
The jerking motion thrust her to the ground. As the thief continued to pull away, the strap tangled around her arm, dragging her several feet. Her husband tried to scramble after the man, but the strap broke and the bandit dashed away.
The grandma was a bit scraped up, but not seriously injured. The culprit remains at large. And the couple just can't believe a criminal would be brazen enough to stalk victims at a church.
I don't know how God views such things. But churches are supposed to offer peace and refuge. You'd like to think there is severe divine retribution for ne'er-do-wells who mess with a place of worship. Don't mess with God in his own house.
Phil Luciano can be reached at email@example.com or (309) 686-3155.