No charges in church school theft
By Dave Gathman firstname.lastname@example.org November 5, 2012 8:12PM
Updated: December 7, 2012 6:17AM
ELGIN — They might not be going as far as the bishop in “Les Miserables,” who refuses to press charges against an escaped convict stealing the bishop’s silverware, gives him even more valuables and then says, “I have bought your soul for God.” But after two young men admitted they had stolen $1,500 in a night-time burglary to Harvest Christian Academy, Harvest officials declined to press charges, telling police they plan to handle the young men’s discipline “internally.”
The academy is part of the Harvest Bible Chapel megachurch, in the former Safety-Kleen building at 1000 N. Randall Road.
According to police reports released last week, about $1,150 in cash and $350 in checks and bank card receipts had been stored in a lockbox inside one teacher’s desk. On the morning of Oct. 5, the box was missing.
Harvest Security Director Bryin Nelson told police he began to suspect two students, an 18-year-old from Algonquin and a 17-year-old from Rolling Meadows, one of whom also worked for Harvest as an employee.
On Oct. 24, the two reportedly confessed their involvement to Elgin police investigators. According to police reports, they said they had been attending a volleyball game at the church on the night before the break-in and began to joke about stealing the money box, which they knew was in the teacher’s desk. After awhile, they said, the joking turned into a real plan to commit a burglary.
Later that night, they told officers, they climbed over an 8-foot wall into the church parking garage, entered the main building, got desk keys from a location the employee knew about because of his work, and got into the classroom using a key supplied to the employee to do his job. They said they took the lockbox, drove with it to one of their homes, pried it open and split up money they pulled from inside.
The next day, they told investigators, they threw the box into the Fox River in West Dundee. But as it sank, they said, some money and checks floated to the water’s surface, showing that they had failed to pull out all of the box’s contents.
The two could have been charged as adults with felony burglary and faced possible prison time. But police said they released the youths at the request of church officials.
Harvest officials did not return calls asking for comment.