One of the South Bay’s most historic Catholic churches this week was targeted by thieves who stole thousands of dollars in donations meant to buy Christmas gifts for children.
And now churchgoers at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church are asking the community to help to replace $3,000 snatched from a donation box by two thieves in disguise on Saturday.
More than 50 donors pitched in to help ensure the children, many of whom come from needy, immigrant families, will receive toys from the church this year. A GoFundMe campaign set up on Christmas Eve had already netted $8,590 in donations in seven hours.
“It was terrible that this happened and the members of the church should not have to suffer because there are bad people in the world,” said David Plotkin, who donated to help the church replenish the stolen funds.
According to church leaders, the suspects entered the church just after 2:30 p.m. Saturday — just as a baptism service wrapped up — calmly lifted the donation box and walked out the door with it. A surveillance video shows a man and woman, dressed in black with hooded sweatshirts, gloves and dark sunglasses, staking out the church before the woman brazenly walks to the front of the church and grabs the donation box near the candle station, while her partner keeps an eye out.
The incident is being investigated by the San Jose Police Department. No arrests have been made, but authorities are hoping someone can help identify the couple.
In the meantime, the church’s priest says he hopes the couple feels guilty and brings the money back.
“It’s very sad,” Rev. Gerardo Menchaca told NBC Bay Area on Tuesday. “I’m very upset about it, especially because this is a very hardworking community. This is not a wealthy community. So I know people make a lot of sacrifices to buy the gifts for the children.”
The stolen money was meant to buy toys for hundreds of local children to be handed out on Jan. 6, the Catholic Feast of the Three Kings, a longtime tradition at the San Jose church.
To donate to the church’s GoFundMe page, click here.