Vernon Police have arrested four people who are accused of trespassing at a vacant and condemned church on Sunday.
Officers said three people from New York and one person from New Jersey saw a posting about the former Sacred Heart Church on Hartford Turnpike on social media, thought it would be a cool place at which to take photos and drove from New York City to Connecticut.
When the four people saw the building was secure, they left, and came back with a hammer to try to break in around 3:15 p.m., police said.
A monitoring system on the property alerted Vernon Police and the four people were arrested.
Police identified the suspects as 20-year-old Anson Chin, of Buffalo, New York, who was charged with criminal attempt/trespass in the second degree and trespass in the third degree; Kenado Mercado, 19, of Brooklyn, New York, who was charged with criminal attempt/trespass in the second degree, trespass in the third degree, criminal mischief in the third degree and possession of burglar tools; Shreyansh Prithyani, 18, of Edison, New Jersey, who was charged with criminal attempt/trespass in the second degree, trespass in the third degree and criminal mischief in the third degree; Christopher Yu, 24, of Flushing, New York, who was charged with criminal attempt/trespass in the second degree and trespass in the third degree.
They are due in court on Jan. 15.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich took over the church in October 2017 after a merger of Sacred Heart and St. Bernard in Rockville, according to Wayne Gignac, the communications director for the diocese. The Vernon Town Clerk's Office showed the church hadn't been in use since May of 1997.
Gignac said when the Diocese took over the property, it re-secured the building and added other security measures, including cameras. There are also no trespassing signs surrounding the church.
The building had become a target for vandals and trespassers, and was shown in videos posted on YouTube.
The diocese has been working with Vernon Police to limit the number of trespassers on the property. Police said if you trespass, you will get arrested.