Police arrested a 51-year-old man in connection with a string of break-ins and burglaries of Bronx churches and Catholic schools over the last month and a half.
Cops busted Nathaniel Linden Sunday morning after the suspect was spotted inside a school associated with St. Phillip Neri Church. The Bronx man was charged with two counts of burglary related to a series of church thefts and break-ins dating back to early November.
At least eight churches have been broken into since that time, with undisclosed amounts of cash and valuables taken all but once.
Linden was charged with two counts of burglary, including the theft of an unknown amount of cash from Iglesia Baptista Hispania De Fordham on University Avenue a week ago. Police said he smashed a third-floor window to get inside.
It wasn't immediately clear if police knew who else -- or how many other suspects -- they were looking for in connection with the robberies. The investigation is ongoing.
Police say the break-in pattern dates back to November 6th, when a second floor door was busted open at Kingsbridge Evangelical Lutheran Church on Bailey Avenue. Nothing was taken.
On November 14, an undisclosed amount of cash was taken from Our Lady of Guadelupe on Bainbridge Avenue; it wasn't clear how the suspect or suspects got into the building.
A week later, the "poor box" at St. John's Church rectory on Kingsbridge Avenue was stolen. One day after the theft at St. John's, 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.
Three more Christian institutions -- Church of St. Ann, Cosmopolitan Church of the Lord Jesus and Our Lady of Refuge school -- were burglarized on November 26, 27 and 29, respectively. An undisclosed amount of money was stolen in the first two break-ins. Computer equipment was taken from Our Lady of Refuge; hair fibers were recovered from the scene.
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."
The most recent church robbery happened Friday, when a suspect or suspects entered St. James Episcopal Church through a rear window, broke into several collection boxes and fled with an unknown amount of property.