Norwood church burglarized for second time in three months; police say break-ins unconnected

After a brief holiday break, thieves have once again broken into a church in the Norwood neighborhood.

On January 8, at 9:30 a.m. a burglar broke into St. Ann’s Parish School at 3519 Bainbridge Avenue and stole about 40 laptop computers and a television. Police did not have a suspect as of Tuesday, January 11, but said the investigation is continuing.

Before Christmas nearly a dozen churches in the area had been burglarized.

“It was a big loss and we’re hoping the police will find whoever did this, and soon,” said Cecile Rodriguez, principal of the school. “I am happy to report we were able to open on Monday normally. The kids weren’t traumatized by what they saw.”

Rodriguez did not give details about the break-in because of lingering concerns about security, but said that the school needed to be cleaned up before it could be opened to the students.

While the students were not shocked at the wreckage left by the thief, they will no doubt be feeling the impact of the missing computers. Rodriguez said all students at the elementary school used the computers regularly.

“We have other alternative equipment we can use until they’re replaced. We’re still managing to work with the kids, but things will be better when we do have replacements,” Rodriguez said. “We are carrying on with the school as normal.”

This is the second time the parish has been robbed in three months. In November, money was stolen from the church’s poor box and some church property was damaged.

The robbery appeared to be connected to a string of 10 burglaries at Norwood churches that occurred throughout November and December.

On Sunday, December 19, police arrested Nathaniel Linden, 51, in connection with the robberies. He was arraigned the following day and charged with several counts of burglary, petit larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, criminal mischief and trespass in connection with break-ins at two churches – the Iglesia Bautista Hispana de Fordham and the Phillip Neri Church.

According to a police document, Linden confessed to the crime, claiming he targeted churches because he was angry at God.

Police said that despite similarities, the most recent incident at St. Ann’s Parish School is not related to the previous break-ins in the area.

Rodriguez did not discuss any additional security measures the school has implemented to fight to rise in church break-ins.

“It’s mostly that you feel violated that they entered a space,” she said. “It’s unfortunate it happened a second time.”

As with most parishes that suffered a break-in recently, the community has responded generously. Rodriguez said she has received several offers for donations and laptops, but is hesitant to accept for fear that the school may become a target once again.

“We have had among parents and community, offers of assistance should we need it,” she said. “At this point I haven’t accepted anything, but we’ve had a lot of contact with the community. They’ve been very kind should we need it.”

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