Church thief arrested again
Wilton police were involved yet again with Francis Casner, infamous for stealing donation boxes from churches in southern Connecticut.
The first time they dealt with the 50-year-old East Haven man was on July 8, when he turned himself in after being issued a warrant for the theft of a donation box from Our Lady of Fatima Church on Danbury Road sometime during the weekend of March 6.
This time, they took him into custody and turned him over to the Ridgefield Police Department after he was discovered to be wanted by that agency.
Casner had come back to the Wilton station on Aug. 5 to retrieve his belongings seized at the time of the original arrest and kept for him there.
“There is certain property they are not allowed to go to court with,” said Lt. Stephen Brennan, “so we have to hold it until they return to claim it.”
Brennan said that when Casner revisited the station, police ran a quick check and discovered the Ridgefield warrant. A $10,000 bond was placed on Casner, which he was unable to post. He was arraigned at Danbury Superior Court the next day.
According to Capt. Jeff Kreitz with Ridgefield police, the warrant was for a sixth-degree larceny charge Casner picked up when he allegedly stole money from a donation box at St. Mary’s Church on Catoonah Street.
Our Lady of Fatima
A surveillance photo of Casner, then unidentified, was released to media outlets by Wilton police back in March. Police pegged him as a suspect because he was acting suspiciously in the area of the missing donations box.
Church officials said the box would cost $150 to replace and estimated it contained $100 when it was stolen.
North Branford arrest
Casner was arrested by North Branford police on April 14 when an employee at St. Augustine Church on Caputo Road reported a suspicious individual lurking about the grounds who appeared to be the same person caught on video stealing from the church in February.
According to media reports, police were able to confirm from surveillance video and the detailed description given by the employee that the thief had indeed returned to the scene of the original crime.
They found him driving a brown 1999 Chevy S-10 pickup and took him into custody. He was identified as Francis William Casner Jr.
At the time of his arrest, it was reported Casner was in possession of a quantity of stolen and suspicious items.
Police found the metal cash box reported stolen from St. Augustine in February, a wooden box that had the words “Book Offering” written on it, a purse reported stolen from St. George Church in Guilford, and a set of car keys belonging to Fairfield University that was reported stolen from the Jesuit Community Center on the campus.
Police also found church bulletins from St. Bridget Church in Cheshire, St. Mark Church in Westbrook, St. Margaret Church in Madison, St. Rita Church in Hamden and St. Theresa Church in Trumbull.
There was also an “open envelope containing donation checks written to other southern Connecticut churches,” according to Fox News Connecticut.
Stemming from the North Branford arrest, Casner was charged with three counts of larceny sixth and one count of larceny fifth, and appeared at New Haven Superior Court on April 22.
A career criminal
Casner has a long rap sheet.
A quick search on the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch online case lookup revealed he has been convicted of resisting arrest, third-degree criminal trespassing, third-degree burglary and second-degree breach of peace.
Those sentences were delivered. As for open cases, Casner has quite a few of those as well:
- Casner was arrested by the New Haven Police Department on May 23 on the charges of possession of illegal narcotics, possession of illegal narcotics in a school zone, and first-degree criminal trespassing. He is scheduled to appear at New Haven Superior Court on Sept. 9.
- Casner was arrested by the Madison Police Department on Aug. 13 for two counts of sixth-degree larceny he is accused of having committed on April 15, the same day he was released from the North Branford Police Department. He is scheduled to appear at New Haven Superior Court on Sept. 9.
- Casner is scheduled to appear at New Haven Superior Court again on Sept. 9 for the charges levied against him by the North Branford Police Department.
- Casner is scheduled to appear at Norwalk Superior Court on Aug. 26 for the charges he accrued stealing from Our Lady of Fatima.
- The only charge to which Casner pled not guilty was the one brought against him by the Ridgefield Police Department, for which he is scheduled to appear at the Danbury Superior Court on Sept. 10.