Suspect bagged in church crime spree
Police arrested a Manoa woman yesterday and charged her with stealing a purse during a funeral service at St. Pius X Church.
Kellyn Cabral, 23, is also a suspect in purse snatchings at several churches in East Honolulu, police said.
Cabral was charged with second-degree robbery and second-degree burglary in connection with a March 3 attempted purse snatching at St. Pius X in Manoa. Bail has been set at $50,000.
Police believe Cabral is the suspect in a spate of thefts at eight churches in East Honolulu from February to March. The thefts have stirred church administrators and leaders to remind members to be cautious of their belongings while worshipping or attending services.
Police first arrested Cabral after St. Pius X church members detained her as she tried to leave with a purse during a funeral service, said Detective Steve Forman.
Police released her pending investigation but arrested and charged her yesterday. She was charged with robbery because she allegedly used force against St. Pius X members during the March 3 theft attempt. She was charged with burglary for allegedly stealing mail from a church room.
Forman estimates the total loss from the eight incidents at $2,000.
An additional three cases have surfaced recently in Kaneohe and Kailua, Forman said.
THIEVES PREY ON THE FAITHFUL
Police said thieves stole purses at these eight churches:
» New Hope at Kaiser High School
» Wesley United Methodist
» Calvary-by-the-Sea Lutheran Church
» Central Union Church
» Makiki Christian Church
» St. Pius X
» Korean Catholic Community at St. Pius X
» Seventh-day Adventist
Police ask those with more information to call the burglary and theft detail in their local police district.
Several of the thefts had common elements: a woman in her 20s, sometimes accompanied by a man.
"There's a good suspicion that she may have been involved in other cases involving purses stolen during church services," Forman said, but he added that he needs witnesses to come forward.
The first of the related incidents occurred at New Hope Christian Fellowship at Kaiser High School in February and resulted in a loss of about $700 in cash and personal property.
The Rev. Aaron Cordeiro said church members were gathering in a kitchen area at the school before an 8 a.m. Sunday service as the woman talked with members about their children, he said. Soon one woman noticed her purse was missing from a shelf. Church members searched the area for the suspect, who had left the property.
It was the first theft in five years that the church has been at Kaiser High School, Cordeiro said.
At Central Union Church, Administrator Jack Simpson said there have been at least four thefts since the beginning of this year, all reportedly by a young woman.
In one instance the woman entered a preschool classroom, saying she was a child's aunt. The woman then left with the teacher's purse, Simpson said.
Another time, during a Sunday service, two women were seated next to each other when one left her purse behind to use the bathroom. The suspect appeared and told the seated woman that her auntie needed her purse, Simpson said. When the woman returned, her purse was gone.