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$19,000 stolen from Burbank church

September 17, 2010|By Gretchen Meier, gretchen.meier@latimes.com

Police continue to look for a man who made off with up to $19,000 from a Burbank church last week.

Around noon on Sept. 7, an employee of St. Finbar Church had placed the church's deposits in her vehicle when a Latino man ran up to her car and grabbed the deposit bag. The man, described as between 20 and 30 years old, immediately ran to a nearby vehicle and was last seen driving southbound on Lamer Street.

The Catholic parish, located on the 2000 block of West Olive Avenue, lost more than $5,000 in cash and $13,000 to $14,000 in personal checks.

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Church funds in recent months have gone to replace plumbing fixtures and aging cracked windows, installation of a new garage door and refinishing the floors in order to restore the parish's Faith Center. The collections that were stolen were marked for regular operating costs, church officials said.

No parishioners out of the congregation of 2,000 people have reported their checks were cashed, said Pastor Albert Bahhuth.

"We hope the good will [of the congregation] will help us," said Bahhuth. "We have also had a few generous parishioners donate more than their original contributions."

St. Finbar has seen a 50% increase in its online contributions within the last year, he added.

"It's very small, but increasing," Bahhuth said. "It's easier for our operations and lessens the danger of this happening again."

Burbank police conducted an area search but were unable to locate any possible suspects immediately following the call. The suspect was described as a male Latino, 5 foot 8 inches tall with a thin build and wearing a light blue colored cap.

He was possibly driving a gray Audi with a license plate that witnesses said could have read, "COMBO-T."

"Unfortunately, the license plate doesn't exist," said police Det. Aaron Kendrick. "We have nothing on the vehicle and no surveillance video."

Officials are still waiting for information on fingerprints taken from the scene.

Anyone with information about the suspect or the stolen money was encouraged to contact Kendrick at (818) 238-3276.

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