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Saratoga County

Gifts stolen from a church giving tree

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Albany/HV: Gifts stolen from a church giving tree
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Troy Police say they're looking for a Grinch that stole a church's Christmas. Members of the clergy, meanwhile, hope the spirit of giving wasn't stolen, too. Our Erin Vannella reports.

TROY, N.Y. -- "About 11:30, I noticed that two of our gifts, their packages, had been opened and the tissue was asunder and the gifts were gone," said Our Lady of Victory Church Reverend Randall Patterson.

It happened Tuesday morning after mass, said Father Randall Patterson. Gifts wrapped and tagged for infants were missing. The church was open since no thefts in the Giving Tree project's history had dictated a need otherwise.

"If we had to have this happen, I'm grateful that it happened at the beginning when only a few items were taken," said Patterson.

Still, a theft from under the church's trees rubbed police the wrong way.

"We treat every crime and every larceny with due diligence, but with this crime, there seems to be a little extra in their step," said Troy Police Captain John Cooney. “Our evidence technicians are working it harder. Our detectives are going to be knocking on more doors and hopefully the public will join us in that."

Police have no suspects or witnesses, only fingerprints. And while they wait for results, Father Patterson stays optimistic. The gifts, he hopes, if not reaching the intended child, will at least help meet a desperate need.

"We trust that clothes that were gifted had been directed to a very good place," said Patterson. "Even though they may have been stolen, I trust that maybe a child is warmer because of them."

The church says it will lock the gifts away for safekeeping to avoid a repeat of the thefts.

Police say they have a lot of physical evidence in the case and are hopeful they can find whoever is responsible.

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