On Sunday night, Our Lady of Refuge School became the latest target in a string of break-ins and burglaries at Christian institutions that have been going on throughout the Bronx since November 6th.
Pastor John Jenik pointed to the shattered window in the school gym that appears to be how burglars got in. A hammer was used to break into the locked closet in the principal's office where an estimated four to five thousand dollars was taken in electronics and cash.
According to Marivel Colon, the principal at Our Lady of Refuge, the stolen items include: "two laptops, a Sony digital camera, a scanner, $800 in cash.
The brazen bandits also stole $300 that was being kept in a kindergarten classroom closet because they were going on a class trip, said Colon.
And this is just the most recent break-in in a robbery pattern where all the targets so far have been either churches or Catholic schools in the borough.
On November 6th, a second floor door was busted open at Kingsbridge Evangelical Lutheran Church on Bailey Avenue, although nothing was taken.
On November 21st, the "poor box" at St. John's Church rectory on Kingsbridge Avenue was stolen.
One day later, a window at Our Lady of Angels School on Claflin Avenue was smashed and school officials say a laptop and $550 in raffle money was taken.
The pastor at Our Lady of Refuge said he believes these churches and schools are being targeted because they are "soft targets, easy targets to get into."
He added, "We don't have the security that the Board of Eduation has."
Ms. Colon noted that her school is considered by many families as a safe haven from the neighborhood's crime, and told us "when you're stealing from the school, you're actually stealing from the children. And, we feel so violated."
Pastor Jenik says the school's already tight budget might have to be strained even further, because "we'll have to reactivate the alarm system again and change all the windows down in the gym and put security screens over them. So that's gonna be an investment of capital."
While insurance will likely cover the loss of the merchandise in the principal's closet, it will probably not reimburse for the alleged $1100 stolen in cash.
The NYPD says it's investigating the incidents and trying to track down the burglars.
Pastor Jenik says he has a meeting with police Tuesday morning.