FRANKLIN COUNTY, Mo. - A woman said she was shocked by what she discovered in her church’s parking lot.
Mandy Parmentier said as she was attending Saturday evening mass with her family, someone apparently used a crowbar to break into her car.
“My purse was taken out. It was tucked underneath the dash. I didn’t feel that I needed that in the middle of church,” said Parmentier.
The break-in happened on a recent Saturday evening at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Parish in Washington, Missouri.
“It was very surprising. At church, in the middle of daylight,” she said.
While the crime is not common, it does happen on occasion. Union Police Chief Andrew Parker said break-ins can happen at a location where most people might think they’re safe from crime.
“A church could be a target probably more than any other place because you have a larger group, a congregation gathering for worship,” said Andrew Parker, Union Police Chief.
He added that the location of some churches might make them an easy target.
“A church, where there’s a parking lot and you can gain access right back on the interstate after you committed a crime. And you’re gone. And we don’t know which direction they’ve gone. East, west, south, north,” said Parker.
Both Eureka and Chesterfield recently reported isolated cases involving a car broken into in a church parking lot.
“People go to church on Sundays, obviously, and they park their cars. And they expect things to be safe at church. Thieves don`t have a sacred space. They don`t care,” said Det. Dan Bequette.
Thieves might not care. But fellow church members do have a heart, the Parmentier family said.
“They had it at the 8 and 10 am mass. Somebody said, ‘Yeah. They said a prayer for you. And for the people that stole your stuff,” said Mike Parmentier, Mandy’s husband.
Call it a case of prayers answered. A few days later, Mandy said the unthinkable happened.
“Somebody showed up at my house. And they had my purse with them. They had found it alongside the road, in Augusta, Missouri, which is 15-20 miles. And it was slung across the side of the road. And all my belongings were there,” said Parmentier.
While the contents were recovered, the one thing taken away might be Parmentier’s sense of security.
She said she is now extra careful about where she places valuables, even at church.
“Oh, I take my purse everywhere with me now. I won’t leave anything in the car even if I think it would be a safe place,” she said.