Fedora-Wearing Thief Targeting Churches

Denton police say a fedora-sporting thief is stealing from local churches -- even during service hours.

Police have released video surveillance footage and photographs of a man in at least five church thefts across the Metroplex.

“It's a sacred place," officer Ryan Grelle said. "It just shouldn't be touched, and that makes it a little bit more outrageous that he's doing this."

Investigators said the thefts usually occur when the churches are most populated: Sunday mornings and afternoons. The thefts during the week have occurred during basketball games or other activities.

The man has broken into Immaculate Conception Church's parish office twice and stolen cash.

"It irritates me," Monsignor Charles King said. “I'd say he needs to get a life."

Denton police said they have connected the man to thefts in Denton, Mansfield, Farmers Branch and Midlothian. Investigators are also looking into a similar case in Southlake.

In every incident, the man is wearing one very distinguishing article of headgear.

“The big thing is, he's wearing a fedora hat each time, anywhere from a brown fedora to a straw-type fedora,” Grelle said.

Police said the man is a Hispanic male who appears to have a tattoo or some other type of dark mark on his right forearm.

King said he can’t help but wonder if it’s someone his parish has helped before.

“I have a hard time believing this man is in need of financial assistance,” he said.

The church provides financial assistance through a variety of programs and has even opened the doors of its sanctuary to the homeless, allowing people to sleep on the pews during some tough winter nights.

"He's taking from folks who aren't any better off than he is,” King said.

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