Volunteer charged with burglary at Bloomingdale-area church
A 61-year-old church volunteer from Carol Stream has been charged with burglary after surveillance videos showed him stealing money from his parish's safe and donation boxes, authorities said Friday.
Police said Ross W. Jones, of the 900 block of Dearborn Circle, stole about $2,300 over an undetermined length of time from Mass offerings and donation boxes at St. Isidore Catholic Church in Bloomingdale. Jones told police in a statement Aug. 4 that the thefts were to support a gambling habit.
"It's a sad day for the parish," Bloomingdale police Chief Frank Giammarese said. "This is a person who they know and have dealt with in the past and that's the person who came back and victimized them."
Jones remains in DuPage County jail with bond set at $20,000. He has been charged with burglary, a Class 1 felony when it happens at a place of worship. He faces between four and 15 years in prison and fines up to $25,000 if convicted.
His next scheduled court date is Sept. 8.
Giammarese said Jones confessed to police on Aug. 4 and a judge issued a warrant for his arrest the next day. Jones made arrangements through his attorney to turn himself in Thursday.
When he did not show up, however, police arrested him at a friend's home in Glendale Heights on Thursday evening, Giammarese said.
Jones was a volunteer at the church and a former employee. Police say he entered the church after hours at least six times to steal money from the safe.
For several months, church administrators noticed "slight shortfalls" in cash collections. After a collection box in the church's drop safe was emptied, officials installed surveillance cameras.
Those cameras captured a July 31 theft that police say Jones committed. Church leaders called police after they reviewed the footage. Giammarese emphasized the church did everything right in the situation.
"Once they saw something wasn't right, they took the appropriate steps," he said. "The church is a place for forgiveness but we still have a job to do in law enforcement. It will be hard to accept, but we'll deal with it."
Parish administrator Tom Norton said Jones was very active in the parish and called the situation "sad."
In a statement that will be sent to parishioners Saturday, Norton said Jones has been barred from parish property and reminded parishioners to stay alert for unusual or unsafe activity. He also asked parishioners to pray for Jones, who he did not name in the statement.
"We will keep this person and their family in our prayers, as this will be an especially difficult ordeal for them," he said. "We ask you to do the same."