A dramatic increase in vandalism has churchgoers on alert

By Nana Ohkawa
Published On: Aug 06 2014 06:09:17 AM HST
Updated On: Aug 03 2014 08:17:19 AM HST

Church officials say a homeless woman blocking a parking stall shattered a window at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church.

HONOLULU -

A dramatic increase in vandalism has churchgoers on alert.

Click here for Nana Ohkawa's report.

On Friday, police arrested a 62-year-old woman for breaking a window at  Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, near Don Quijote.

Church officials said a homeless woman blocking a parking stall shattered a window with a metal pipe on Friday. The flying glass hit a parishioner inside.

"When she was asked to move she just turned violent and started going around the church trying to break into the church," said Keith Febrero with the church.

It happened in broad daylight just before noon Mass. Ruth Tavares-Toma was inside waiting for service to begin when she heard the commotion.

"We were just shocked when we sat down to start praying we heard this huge noise, a crack in the window and looked over to the side and saw this window falling down into the church," said church member Tavares-Toma.

She said in the 24 years she's gone to Saints Peter and Paul, the church has never faced this kind of vandalism. Church leaders believe the damages in and around the church have been getting worse in the past two months. Someone even threw a brick through this window. It has been recently replaced. Febrero says in the parking lot someone came toward him pointing a knife.

Church leaders also said a big problem are Mother Mary statues outside of the church getting kicked down. They get damaged to the extent that they need to buy new ones.

Inside the church, a Mother Mary has been replaced twice. And people have snuck into a back room area to steal the church's clothing donations. But, the congregation is determined to maintain a safe environment.

"The church has been really good on safety and taking car of the kids, making sure we follow certain policies. We've been drilled on safe environments. I hope this doesn't deter people from going to Mass going to church and worshipping God," said Febrero.

The church does have surveillance cameras surrounding the exterior. The damages are estimated in the hundreds of dollars.

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