Woman tries getting away with purse during mass

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ST. JOSEPH, Mo. - Many people come to church looking for peace, comfort, and a renewal of faith.  Apparently one woman in St. Joseph went looking for money.

Director of Worship, Sandy Gumm, says church ushers noticed a woman was acting suspiciously. They've gone through training to recognize the signs, but just like anyone, she was welcomed with open arms.

"We're a very warm and welcoming community," Gumm said.

He says the woman walked down the center aisle and sat just a few pews back from the front.

"At communion time, everyone went up for communion and she stayed in the pew and as they were up receiving communion - grabbed the bag and walked out," Gumm said.

An usher stopped her from leaving and asked the woman more than once if the purse was hers.  Finally she came clean.

"She said I'm sorry and handed over the purse," Gumm said.

Gumm said the woman then ran out.  Now the church is urging people to leave anything valuable at home or to leave the big purse at home and just take the essentials in a smaller bag or in your pocket.

As for the woman who grabbed the purse, Gumm says all she had to do was ask for help.

"If they needed assistance with clothing, food, shelter, we have different avenues that we can approach and we can get help for them," he explained.

As for the church- it's still a place for peace, comfort, and faith.

"Our faith is still strong," Gumm concludes.

This is not part of a rash of purse snatchings. St. Joseph police say this is the only one at a church they've heard of recently.  Several months ago they say there was a group of church purse thieves, but police say they've been caught.  Our Lady of Guadalupe is looking through video to better identify the woman.  No charges have been filed.

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