The man police believe is responsible for a string of church burglaries faced a judge in New Britain Superior Court on Monday and it's not his first brush with the law. Police arrested him several times and let him go as those churches were targeted, according to court records.
On Monday Jackie Barry, 45, was arraigned in connection with charges of breaking into the First Church of Christ in Wethersfield on Thursday. The appearance was delayed from Friday due to medical reasons.
Court documents show Barry was arrested inside the church after a resident called them to report suspicious activity. Barry claimed he was there praying, according to police. During that burglary, he stole coffee and oatmeal, according to police. During a prior break-in, he stole a laptop computer, according to church officials.
Jackie Barry is also known as Paul Barry, according to police, and he has a lengthy criminal record for burglary-related and other offenses.
Barry was also arrested three times in January, charged in residential burglaries in Newington, East Hartford and Windsor. He was released each of those times without posting bond.
Windsor police said they thought Barry would show up for court and there was no other reason to hold him since bond is not punitive. East Hartford police did not return phone calls for comment.
Newington police tell NBC Connecticut they would have held Barry on bond, but he needed to go to the hospital for treatment of an undisclosed medical condition.
In West Hartford, where there were nine church burglaries and police are looking closely at Barry.
"Obviously, he's a person of interest in our cases," Captain Donald Melanson, of the West Hartford police department, said. When asked about those earlier arrests in the other towns, Melanson said, "They weren't church burglaries at the time and every department has their own policy on how they determine bonds."
Churches that were targeted, including Westminster Presbyterian in West Hartford, are moving on. "We've had to tighten down and just be more diligent and watch out," said Paul Sigler, who works at Westminster Presbyterian.
Prosecutors said Barry is being held on a $65,000 cash-only bond after his arraignment. He's expected to face additional charges for other church burglaries.