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.