While the congregation was attending service at Knox Presbyterian Church, in Vankleek Hill, on Sunday morning, a thief was busy downstairs. A local resident who spoke with The Review said that she interrupted the culprit in the act of removing a wallet from a backpack. The woman, who asked not to be identified, said that she was bringing her son down to the basement for Sunday school when she encountered the man, who she said was acting in a furtive manner. After spotting the woman and her child, the suspect fled the scene. In the time it took the woman to go upstairs and return with help, the man returned and collected the wallet that the witness says she saw him drop when he left the first time.
After encountering the man, the woman went upstairs where she informed a retired police officer in the congregation of what had happened. Two members of the congregation then chased after the suspect. They followed him to St. John’s Anglican Church and then down to the McEwen’s gas station, in Vankleek Hill, where he was seen getting into a car.
Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) were notified of the incident at approximately 11:30 a.m. and they apprehended the suspect a short time later in Hawkesbury.
The suspect has been identified by police as a 55-year-old Hawkesbury man. He was charged with theft under $5,000 and for failure to comply with a prohibition order that prevented him from frequenting places where there are children. The suspect was prohibited by court order from being in the proximity of daycares, school grounds, parks, community centres and other places where children gather.
OPP Constable Mario Gratton of the Hawkesbury detachment confirmed that the suspect was held in police custody following his arrest. He was scheduled to appear at the L’Orignal Courthouse on Monday, December 5, for a bail hearing.