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Safe stolen from St. John Vianney Catholic church

Someone broke into St. John Vianney Church on Vashon Island Saturday night and stole the church’s safe, church officials reported.

The safe contained an unknown amount of cash, checks and bank drafts taken in from July 14 to 19, including collection money from the church’s 5 p.m. Saturday July 19 mass. Nothing else was taken.

Bill Crawford, a church volunteer, discovered the the break-in after he unlocked the church at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 20.

Crawford called the parish priest, Rev. Richard Roach, who in turn alerted the police. King County Sheriff Department deputies arrived shortly thereafter to investigate the scene.

“After I opened the church, I walked back into the kitchen, because I always bring a cake that my wife bakes for the coffee hour after mass,” Crawford said. “Then I saw a rock on the floor, and broken glass. I looked up to see that the big glass transom above the kitchen door had been smashed.”

Crawford discovered that the door to another room inside the church had been pried open, and that the safe, which had been kept in that room, was missing.

“That thing was bolted to the floor,” Crawford said, “and it probably weighed over 80 pounds.”

The thief (or thieves) apparently left by another door, which had a deadbolt that could be turned by hand from the inside.

Crawford said the thieves would have had to carry the heavy safe quite a distance, since the gates to the church parking lot were closed and locked and had not been tampered with.

A somber Roach told parishioners about the theft in an announcement prior to the Sunday mass, and acknowledged that he was most disturbed by the fact that the thieves seemed to know exactly where the safe was kept.

“They seemed to have some limited knowledge of the structure of the church, which deepened our alarm about the vandalism and theft,” Roach said.

Later in the mass, Roach prayed for the thieves, asking that “they would repent before facing God’s judgment.”

After the service, parishioners nibbled on the cake Bill Crawford had brought for the coffee hour and expressed shock at what had happened.

Connie Walker, the church’s pastoral assistant for administration, said she was very saddened by the theft.

“So many of our parishioners are of very limited means, and yet they sacrifice to put money in the collection plate and support the church,” she said. “For that money to be stolen is tragic.”

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 296-3311, and reference case number 08176575.

Meanwhile, on Friday night, someone forced open the electronic gate of the Vashon Airport, which abuts the St. John Vianney property, said airport commissioner Al Paxhia.

He estimated the damage at $500 and said there was a possibility the two incidents were related.

Paxhia said he doubted the thieves would have dragged the safe over to airport property rather than through the church parking lot, since they’d have to go through rough terrain and there was no evidence of that having occurred.

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