CRANFORD, NJ - The Cranford police are actively investigating a series of local church burglaries in which private church offices were forcibly entered. Police are aware of three burglaries that occurred in the past week, and believe they are related.

The investigation, led by Detectives Spencer Durkin and Derek Farbanec, began on Nov. 3 when an unknown suspect entered the Cranford Alliance Church located at 2 Cherry St. between 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The suspect used a prying tool to enter a locked office and left the scene after stealing a backpack with personal belongings and $300 cash.

The second incident occurred on Nov. 8 at approximately 11:45 a.m. A suspect entered the Cranford Methodist Church, located at 201 Lincoln Ave. East, and forced his way into a second-floor locked office. $50 cash was stolen from the church office. The burglary was not detected until Monday, Nov. 10 when staff arrived at the office.  Surveillance video from a nearby business was used to narrow down the time frame.

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The third incident occurred on Nov. 8 at approximately 12:15 p.m. The suspect entered the priests’ private residence attached to St. Michael’s Church, located at 40 Alden St.  A parish priest investigated the noise associated with the intrusion, causing the suspect to flee the scene. Nothing was reported stolen in that incident, but church surveillance video shows the suspect, a black male in his late 40s or 50s and wearing a jacket with a white or reflective stripe, loitering in the church vestibule moments before the attempted burglary.

Chief Wozniak is asking for the public’s help to solve this series of crimes. “We released the video and images from this investigation because we know that there are people out there that might recognize this individual,” Wozniak said. The chief reminded residents to contact police if they have information or see the suspect, but not to approach anyone or take any action that might put them in danger.

 

Anyone with information relevant to this investigation is encouraged to contact Det. Durkin at 908-709-7345 or Det. Farbanec at 908-709-7347.

 

Link to proprietary video zip file: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/63973118/Proprietary%20Surveillance%20Video%20Files.zip