Waterbury synagogue leaders are looking for the man they said walked into their synagogue while kids were in day care inside and stole charity donations.
Surveillance video from B’nai Shalom Synagogue Tuesday shows a man walk through the doors near the day care, rummage through the donation boxes inside one of the sanctuaries—along with a bag and other parts of the room—and start scoping out other rooms, too.
“That’s money that’s meant for the poor and for the needy and for someone to commit a crime like that is certainly a sad thing to happen,” Communications Director Shuly Lieber said.
He has a 2-year-old daughter in the day care and calls the situation extremely unnerving.
A police report said he got away with about $20 in cash. The man can be seen rummaging through other rooms, including the rabbi’s office, according to Lieber. As he exits, a child from the daycare brushes past him. That’s when a teacher confronts him.
“He actually claimed he was going to see the rabbi and he seemed very comfortable saying it,” Lieber said, adding the rabbi wasn’t in at the time.
Based on surveillance video timestamps, the suspect was only inside for about five minutes.
“We come here to pray every day, we come here to study every day and to have something like this is quite jarring,” said Yitzchak Friedland, a member of the board of directors.
Members of the synagogue’s board of directors believe this suspect might have been involved in a similar larceny at B’nai Shalom in June. A police report from that incident states that a member of the board believes that person stole from a donation box, too.
“It’s very possible that he was here. He seemed to know where he was going,” Friedland said.
Waterbury Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo said his team is looking at whether the incidents are related.
“All our doors are typically locked. We do have them at time unlocked at times of prayer or at times of dropping off a student,” Lieber said.
Waterbury police had a squad car outside the synagogue for part of the day and said the area where B’nai Shalom is, is part of their patrol. The chief said officers gave ideas to members of the board to better secure their building at all hours.
There was a third larceny in April where a man reported that his bag filled with religious items was stolen from the synagogue. The chief said the suspect description is completely different.
Lieber said that’s when the synagogue first installed security cameras.
“We feel quite hurt, angry and disgusted by something like this. This should be a very, very safe place,” Friedland said.