A homeless heroin addict living out of his car has been charged with burglarizing a West Islip church four times in the past three weeks, authorities said Monday.
Michael Fredericks, 28, formerly of North Babylon, has been charged with four counts of third-degree burglary, said Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini at a Yaphank news conference Monday.
“He was stealing to fuel his drug habit, and taking from people in need as well,” Sini said.
The arrest was prompted by a tip to CrimeStoppers, he said. “A member of the community called that number and provided significant intelligence,” Sini said.
Fredericks was arrested early Monday morning and is being held until his arraignment Tuesday.
Sini said Fredericks, who had been living out of his Jeep, has several prior arrests. He was familiar with the church but Sini did not elaborate on that link.
Our Lady of Lourdes Church in West Islip was burglarized four times in three weeks — the most recent incident happening on Palm Sunday, a church official said Monday.
Msgr. Brian McNamara said in a telephone interview on Monday that donation money was stolen in two of the burglaries, but that no proceeds were obtained in the other two.
“He got money twice,” McNamara said. “A couple of weeks ago he got $300 or $400, and a week ago Sunday [April 2] he came in while we were having our 11 a.m. Mass but I don’t know how much he got then.”
McNamara said that on April 2 the burglar struck twice — first during the 11 a.m. service and again during the overnight hours between April 2 and 3.
Police said the first burglary happened sometime between March 22 and March 29.
Suffolk police said they responded to a call for a burglary at the church that came in at 10:33 p.m. Sunday.
“He didn’t get anything because we emptied everything out” that contained cash, McNamara said. He noted that the burglar has entered the building through a grate hole in the boiler room and by breaking the lock on the boiler room door.
McNamara called the burglaries “disconcerting.”
He said that if the person or people committing the burglaries are in need of some sort of financial assistance he wishes they would have just come to him and asked for help instead.
“We have a parish outreach here,” McNamara said. “We help people with food, gas and electric bills. If you are a person in need, I would help you.”
McNamara said about 6,000 families belong to the church, with most of the congregation coming from West Islip and a small amount of members coming from Bay Shore and North Babylon.