A Flossmoor man is facing felony burglary charges for allegedly stealing money from a donation box at Infant Jesus of Prague Catholic Church last month.
John M. Becker, 21, of the 1200 block of Oakmont Avenue, was charged with burglary to a house of worship, according to a Flossmoor police report.
Becker told police he used a screwdriver to break into the donation box and took $11 from the donation box so that he could buy cigarettes, the report states.
The theft was reported to police at 11:30 a.m. on March 17. About a half hour before the burglary, an IJP maintenance worker had checked the four donation boxes and found them to be undisturbed. The donation boxes – two are near the church’s main entrance and two are closer to the altar area – are used to collect contributions for the St. Vincent DePaul Society.
A witness noticed a young man leaving the church at about the same time that the damage to the collection box was discovered. He used his cell phone to take a photo of the young man as he walked across the IJP school parking lot toward Douglas Avenue.
The witness also gave a detailed description of the young man to a Flossmoor police officer. According to the report, the young man was wearing a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt with writing on it and white shorts.
The collection box was secured with a padlock but the thief had removed screws to get at the contents inside.
After taking the initial statement, the officer drove around the neighborhood near IJP. He saw Becker shooting baskets at a house on Oakmont, about a block from the church. Becker matched both the witness’s description and the photo that he’d taken.
Becker was arrested and taken to the police station, where he made a statement admitting the theft, the police report states.
According to the report, Becker was a familiar visitor to IJP and had been seen praying in the church on a number of occasions in the last few months.