Churches, synagogues robbed, suspect arrested
October 23, 2012 | Mike Cohen - Quebec Bureau Chief
Jewish residents in Montreal’s Outremont and Mile End areas can rest a little easier now that a suspect who allegedly stole more than $15,000 from donation boxes at about 10 synagogues frequented by members of the Chassidic community has been arrested.
At press time the name of the suspect had not been released.
Montreal Police had released photos of the suspect, who is about 55 years of age, last week. He was found and arrested soon after.
Barry Eisner of the community’s emergency volunteer organization Chaverim, said the thefts began during the Rosh Hashanah holiday period and continued until last week.
“We increased our evening patrols.” Eisner said. “We had about a dozen civilian cars, with two men each, circulating where the synagogues are. They were getting out of the car and looking for anyone suspicious. Even during Shabbat, we had volunteers out there on foot. We were really determined to find this man.”
Eisner says the police were very cooperative, not only the local unit but the investigation division at the main command. “It was only a question of time (before he was caught),” Eisner said.
Mordechai Silberman, the shamas at Congregation Toldos Yakov Yosef of Skver in Outremont, was one of the synagogues victimized. “He took some small donation boxes, which he broke open with a hammer,” he said. “We had a lot more money in our machine we use for people to pay to use the Mikveh. He chipped away at it and did some damage. But he did not get the money.”
The break-and-enter suspect is reported to have committed 14 such offences during September alone. Police also believe the man targeted local churches.
“This is a very disturbing crime,” said Montreal City Councillor Alex Norris, who had hoped the police could apprehend the offender as quickly as possible to reassure members of the congregations who have fallen victim to these thefts.
Members of the Chassidic community praised Chaverim for its work on the case and urged people to keep supporting the organization with donations.
Meanwhile, on another front in Montreal’s West End, police are seeking two suspects believed to have been wearing hoodies after the high-end Chops Resto Bar steak-and-sushi restaurant was firebombed last Thursday.
The two suspects fled the scene at 5322 Queen Mary Rd. near Décarie Boulevard, Constable Daniel Lacoursière of Montreal police added, citing witnesses. An “incendiary object” – apparently a Molotov cocktail – was thrown through an expansive front window.