GLENDALE — A 52-year-old parolee is expected to be arraigned today in connection with stealing more than $1,000 from church donation boxes in Glendale and Burbank, police said.
Glendale police and the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force arrested Peter Galindro, who was on parole for burglary, Monday night at his mother's home in Los Angeles, just hours after they released his photograph to the public in an effort to generate tips, officials said.
"He is not a nice person," said Bill Evans, facilities director of Holy Family Catholic Church, where Galindro allegedly pilfered about $400 in donations. "We hope that he gets the help that he needs."
Galindro stole a donation being collected at Holy Family for Haiti on Dec. 27, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.
A group of parishioners who were praying said they saw Galindro enter the church and turn over the large donation box that contained about $400 for the poor before fleeing.
Evans said he remembered Galindro from previous encounters, at one point chasing him on the altar and out of the church when he suspected theft.
Soon after the burglary, Glendale police contacted their Burbank counterparts, who had video surveillance of
a thief stealing cash from a collection box at Saint Finbar Catholic Church in Burbank on Sept. 7.
That same day, a man stole a donation bag containing more than $5,000 from a parked car at the church, Burbank police said.
Glendale police detectives suspected the thief in the first Burbank incident was the same man who stole from Holy Family, Burbank Sgt. Robert Quesada said. A connection to the $5,000 theft hasn't been made.
Officials showed the video to witnesses, who confirmed he was the same man who pocketed the donation, Quesada added.
But the major break came when a Downey police officer heard news reports about the thefts and recalled that he also ran into a suspicious man who had been seen hanging around local churches.
The Downey officer looked through his notes and found the man's name, passing it on to local authorities who identified him as Galindro, Lorenz said.
Witnesses also identified Galindro in a photo lineup as the thief, Lorenz added. Holy Family Church officials told police that he may be responsible for stealing at least $1,000 from donation boxes at their church.
Galindro is being held without bail at the Glendale Police Department jail.
Having Galindro behind bars is a relief for the Holy Family congregation, which has recently upgraded security measures at the church, Evans said.
"I know I could breathe a lot easier," he said, adding that the congregation is still fundraising for Haiti relief. Donors may call the relief fund at (818) 247-2222.