A Lindenhurst man has been accused of stealing money from a church donation box in his hometown.

Suffolk County police said 43-year-old Leonard Degaetano was arrested Friday night after officers allegedly watched him take cash from Our Lady of Perpetual Help R.C. Church at 210 South Wellwood Avenue. He was charged with burglary and possession of burglar’s tools. Degaetano also faces another burglary charge for a prior theft at the church, police said.

First Precinct Crime Section and Community Oriented Police Enforcement officers set up surveillance at the church Friday after receiving complaints of thefts in the church, police said.

Surveillance video showed a male suspect using a wire-like object as a hook to steal cash from the boxes, police said. The man attempted to disguise himself by wearing a hood or surgical mask, police said.

Around 9:10 p.m. Friday, two officers inside the church allegedly observed Degaetano remove cash from the box and arrested him as he tried to flee, police said.

Police will continue the investigation. Anyone with information regarding recent thefts at the church is asked to contact the First Squad at 631-854-8152 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.


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Rashed Mian has been covering local news for the Long Island Press since 2011. He graduated from Hofstra University in 2010 where he studied print journalism. Rashed, the staff's multimedia reporter, covers daily news for the web, shoots/edits feature videos and writes about civil liberties. He loves Afghan food and sports. Rashed is also a caffeine freak. Email: rmian@longislandpress.com. Twitter: rashedmian