Frenchman helps himself to church collections

23rd August 2004, Comments 0 comments

RENNES, France, Aug 21 (AFP) - French police have arrested a man who allegedly made a living robbing collection boxes in European churches, officials said Saturday.

RENNES, France, Aug 21 (AFP) - French police have arrested a man who allegedly made a living robbing collection boxes in European churches, officials said Saturday.

The man, aged 36, was picked up by police in Benodet in the Brittany region of western France after a neighbour made a complaint on an unrelated issue.

Asked about his income he told them he received only the basic state social security allowance and said he had been living for the last three years on the proceeds of church robberies.

When police searched his house they found several thousand euros in notes in the glove box of his car and another EUR 5,000 (USD 6,200) hidden in ornaments and tins in his apartment.

They also discovered 16 thin metal rods tipped with double-faced adhesive tape which he used to fish coins and notes out of collection boxes without breaking into them.

The man told police he had started in local churches in his home district, then bought a car and progressively moved further afield: elsewhere in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany.

A local regional newspaper said he had made enough money to buy a plot of land, a boat and Global Positioning System navigation equipment.

He appeared in court Friday but asked for the hearing to be delayed while he prepared his defence. He was remanded in custody and his case will be heard in October, police said.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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