Md. man accused of stealing from churches in DC area

A Maryland man accused of stealing from churches in the D.C. area was arrested in Virginia.

Police say that Richard Thomas Phelan, 61, stole property from churches and businesses throughout Fairfax County, Virginia, and he is being investigated for similar crimes in Montgomery County, Maryland.

On June 28, Fairfax County police responded at Saint Mary’s of Sorrows Catholic Church in Fairfax for an individual who stole a purse from a car in the parking lot. He allegedly used stolen credit cards from the purse at a number of stores nearby.

That same man returned to the church on July 4 and stole from two donation boxes, cashing at least one check inside.

Police looked at surveillance footage and distributed flyers to other law enforcement agencies in the area. That’s when Montgomery County police identified Phelan.

Fairfax County police found him on July 14 on the 5700 block of Columbia Pike, unresponsive inside a white truck, which turned out to be stolen from Montgomery County, a news release said. It was the same vehicle used in the alleged thefts.

Phelan received medical treatment and was then taken into custody on charges of unauthorized use of a vehicle and possession of burglarious tools. Four days later, he was also charged on three counts of credit card fraud, three counts of identity theft, theft of a credit card and petit larceny.

More charges may be coming, as police continue to look at surveillance footage.

Anyone with information should call Fairfax County police at 703-277-2361.

Tadiwos Abedje

Tadi Abedje is a freelance digital writer/editor for WTOP. He was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Northern Virginia. Journalism has been his No. 1 passion since he was a kid and he is blessed to be around people, telling their stories and sharing them with the world.

This content was republished with permission from CNN.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up