INDIO, Calif. - A Catholic church in Indio is just the latest church in the valley to be burglarized. Three weeks ago, two churches in Cathedral City were hit, this week, Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Each Sunday, thousands of people come to the church in Indio. They fill the pews and worship and pray with priests like Father Alex Gamino. "We have about 7,000 registered families here that congregate in our 8 masses during the week and I think it was a shock," said Gamino.
A shock to find the back door to the church forced open two weeks in a row. A shock that someone stole, not only the church's stereo system, but its holy tabernacle, leaving the congregation to plead for their return. "Take it back, bring it back. We really need the stuff," said Nadia Acosta, a parishioner at the church. "it's too expensive."
The church estimates it will cost about $35,000 to replace the items and put in new security measures: an alarm, dead bolts on the doors and new surveillance cameras. The church uses a camera so an overflow crowd can watch mass from the parish hall. It didn't capture much from the burglaries except that the thief came prepared. "What I did see was a gentleman that had come in with a shopping cart to take the things he was taking," said Father Gamino.
The Indio police department's investigating the crimes, but wants help. "Hopefully the public can assist in giving us information and hopefully give us a tip, give us an idea," said Ben Guitron, a police spokesperson.
While the congregation deals with a situation no one expects at a church, Father Gamino says it's brought their community closer and strengthened their faith. "As much as you can take our stuff, the spirit of god is inside of us and that's something that you really can't take away," said Father Gamino.