A FRENCH Roman Catholic priest hid in a confessional box to catch red-handed a thief who had been stealing money from his church’s collection box using a fishing line.
The priest, Fr Hubert Blin, had known for years that someone had been dipping into the donations, and estimated that his church in Le Pradet — just outside Toulon, on the Mediterranean coast — was losing about £2200 a year.
Fr Blin had previously tried to catch the thief by installing cameras, but was unsuccessful; so, instead, he decided to hide inside the confessional box, just before Christmas. “I hid in the confessional, the only place where you can see everything, but can’t be seen yourself,” he told the AFP news agency.
Only 30 minutes after he had assumed his post, he spotted entering the church an elderly man, who began fishing bank notes out of the collection box. Using a weight with sticky tape on both sides at the end of a fishing line, the man was able to pull money out through the narrow slit on the top of the box. Fr Blin leapt out from his hiding place, and caught the thief in the act of pulling up a €5 note.
“I gave him a good telling-off. I told him he was a thief, and I took the €5 note that was still stuck to his system,” the priest said.
He then followed the man out of the church as he left, and called the police, who arrested him.
Fr Blin said that he suspected the man might be responsible for stealing from other collection boxes in the area, but after the police confiscated his fishing-line apparatus, the man, who said that he was homeless, was released.