Blaise Szekeres mugshot

Blaise Mark Szekeres

CALIFORNIA – A California Borough man is in custody on charges he burglarized a church early Monday, ransacked its office and damaged two nearby parked vehicles.

The damages to the closed St. Thomas Aquinas Church in California were discovered after Washington County 911 received a complaint about 6:30 a.m. that a shirtless man was taking items out of the building, court records show.

Police said an officer found the suspect, Blaise Mark Szekeres, 38, seated inside a sport utility vehicle owned by one of the neighbors of the church at 213 Fourth St.

Szekeres refused to identify himself to police, who found about $5,000 in damages to the parked vehicles, an officer stated in the affidavit.

Police accuse Szekeres of throwing a table through the hatch window of the SUV.

A Bible that had been removed from the church was found on the roof of the parked car, whose passenger window was broken out with a cinder block. Its windshield also was shattered.

Police also found a ladder and broken television on the road. Electronics that were in the church office were shoved onto the floor, police said in charging documents.

The church closed March 4 as part of a reorganization of the St. Katharine Drexel parish based in Bentleyville, said the Rev. Ed Yuhas, parish administrator.

He said the suspect’s family indicated Szekeres was under medical treatment for a disorder at the time of the burglary.

Police said there were no signs of forced entry into the church.

Szekeres is charged with intentional vandalism of a place of worship, burglary, theft, receiving stolen property, obstruction, trespassing, intentional desecration of a public monument, criminal mischief and scattering rubbish.

He was placed in Washington County jail on $10,000 bond set by District Judge Mark Wilson.

Staff Writer

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley.

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