Man Arrested for Stealing from Church

West Springfield Police District – A 61-year-old man has been arrested for stealing from churches throughout the National Capital Region. On June 28, our officers responded to the Saint Mary’s of Sorrows Catholic Church in Fairfax for a man who stole a purse from a car in the parking lot. The man used stolen credit cards from the purse at several stores nearby. On July 4, the same suspect returned to the church and stole from two donation boxes. At least one stolen check was cashed from donation box.

Detectives reviewed surveillance footage and distributed flyers of the suspect throughout the region to other law enforcement agencies. Detectives from Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) identified the suspect as Richard Thomas Phelan, of Maryland. MCPD was investigating Phelan for similar crimes.

At 10:50 p.m. on July 14, officers responded to the 5700 block of Columbia Pike for an unresponsive man in a white truck. Officers found Phelan in the same vehicle used during the larcenies. Officers determined the truck was stolen from Montgomery County. Phelan was treated by medics then taken into custody. Phelan was charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle and possession of burglarious tools. Four days later, detectives obtained and served warrants for three counts of credit card fraud, three counts of identity theft, theft of a credit card and petit larceny. He was held without bond.

Detectives have identified Phelan as a suspect in several other larcenies at churches and businesses throughout Fairfax County. Detectives continue to review surveillance footage and anticipate additional charges are forthcoming.

Detectives believe there may be additional victims. Anyone with information about this crime or Phelan is asked to call detectives at 703-277-2361. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone – 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), and by web – Click HERE. Download the ‘P3 Tips’ App “Fairfax Co Crime Solvers”. Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars. Please leave contact information if you wish for a detective to follow up with you.    

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