THIS CRIME spree started at the Gate of Heaven, but whoever is responsible may be heading straight to hell.
A burglar, or burglars, have ransacked seven Catholic schools in Queens during the past four months, using similar methods to break in and making off mostly with cash, police said.
"The safe had to have weighed three to four hundred pounds," said Principal Mary Scheer. "Needless to say, it was a little shocking."
Because the safe was so hefty, Scheer believes the heist was the work of more than one burglar.
The safe contained $2,000 to $3,000 cash and more than $16,000 in tuition checks, she said. Parents were notified immediately and told to cancel the checks, Scheer said.
Hours earlier, thieves had broken into Our Lady of Lourdes School in Jamaica, but nothing was stolen, police said.
Each time, the burglar or burglars break in through a window or door, police said. All of the heists have occurred during late night or predawn hours.
Our Lady of Grace School in Howard Beach was hit twice, police said. The burglars stole cash from the main office on Dec. 14, said Principal Barbara Kavanagh. The second break-in occurred Jan. 15, but no money was taken.
"The worst part wasn't missing a few hundred dollars," Kavanagh said. "It was the damage that was done and the mess that was left."
Since the burglaries, Our Lady of Grace has installed surveillance cameras.
Sunday Porcelli, a mother of two students there, said she has received memos assuring parents there is no cash kept in the school.
Porcelli said she hopes this is "a wakeup call to the Diocese" to keep schools secure. But her biggest concern is that the culprits be caught before they disrupt more schools.
"There is a special place in hell for people who rob churches," she said.