Thief urged to return church's money

MONEY to cover a struggling church parish’s running costs was stolen by an opportunistic thief in Wodonga yesterday morning.

Police are hopeful the thief will hand himself in after being captured on a security camera.

John Forsyth was in Wodonga Post Office at 10.30am when the pay-in book with $450 was taken from a counter behind him.

“It’s a low act. I don’t know how someone can do that,” Mr Forsyth said.

“The parish is struggling.”

Mr Forsyth, from Wooragee, had gone to the post office to send a parcel to his son Andrew.

“I had some money to pay in for the Anglican Church in Yackandandah in the pay-in book, plus letters I’d just got out of my post box,” he said.

Mr Forsyth said he then made the mistake of leaving the money and letters on the bench where he had addressed the parcel.

“I left it there for two minutes and then realised after I posted the parcel that I didn’t have the letters or the pay-in book,” he said.

“I had only moved two or three steps away from the counter and thought ‘the next job’s to go to Hume (Building Society in High Street)’.

“And then I thought ‘hang on, where’s the pay-in book?’”

Mr Forsyth said he immediately began to doubt himself about what he had done with the pay-in book.

“I was walking round and round the post office and the people behind the counter started to look at me because I wasn’t going outside,” he said.

He told them what happened. It was only when someone phoned him later about a work job that it was suggested the post office could have footage of the theft on its security cameras.

“I went and had a look at it and they’ve got the picture of him,” he said.

“You can actually see — at 10.30 and 10 seconds — a hand reach across and take my stuff.”

Mr Forsyth said the “low-life” thief had been standing on the other side of the bench looking through a phone book when he went to the counter.

“He obviously saw it was still sitting there, picked it up and walked out — we saw it on the footage,” he said.

Mr Forsyth said he only occasionally banked money for the church, but he had done so more regularly in the past when he was the assistant treasurer.

“Because the treasurer wasn’t going to Wodonga I was just helping out by bringing it in,” he said.

“Now it’s going to cost me $450 because I’ll have to make it up for them from my Jim’s Mowing business.”

The money came from offering plates at the last services held at the Allen’s Flat church and the Yamaroo Hostel aged care facility in Yackandandah.

The security footage shows a young man in a dark T-shirt with a light blue motif and check shorts.

Leading Sen-Constable Chris Grimmett, of Wodonga police, said it was hoped the thief might hand himself in to police.

“The fact that there’s church money that has been stolen is very disappointing from our point of view,” he said.

Information can be given to Wodonga Police on (02) 6049 2600 or Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.

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