Leonard Degaetano, 43, of Lindenhurst, was arrested Sept. 20 and charged with third-degree burglary and possession of burglar’s tools.
Police officers were watching Friday night and conducting a surveillance operation at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church on South Wellwood Avenue in Lindenhurst. The officers were conducting the operation after the church administration reported several recent thefts involving cash from candle donation and “poor boxes,” a news release said.
On surveillance video, police caught a suspect using a wire-like object as a hook to remove the cash. He was wearing a hood and surgical mask to conceal his identity, said authorities.
The man tried to strike again on Friday, but didn’t realize two police officers were waiting inside the church and monitoring video cameras. At 9:10 p.m., the man tried his luck again at the church’s candle donation box and was arrested as he tried to run from the scene.
Police charged Degaetano with an additional count of third-degree burglary in connection with a previous theft at the church. He is due to be arraigned at a later date.
Anyone with information on the thefts is asked to call First Squad detectives at 631-854-8152 or anonymously call Suffolk Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.