The Mission San Juan Capistrano church has closed its doors to the public after a string of burglaries. Father James Galvin said that he did not want to close the church, especially since it's a World Heritage Site now, but the closure was one of the only options left.
Galvin said thefts have happened sporadically at the church and, recently, has gotten worse. In February, thieves got away with a processional cross that was a gift from the University of the Incarnate Word and a monstrance.
Then, the replacement cross was stolen. And on Friday, a crucifix was stolen.
"I didn't think that they would come back and steal so soon. In fact, I didn't think they'd come back and steal anything at all," Father Galvin said. "I don't feel any ill will. I'm just frustrated that they're doing this."
Visitors said that they don't understand why the church is being targeted either.
"When I think of a church, I would imagine it to be somewhere where people wouldn't do anything bad. I figure a lot of people are God-fearing as well," visitor Kevin Simons said. "I think that's as low as you can get. You're probably pretty bad off to want to do that."
Father Galvin noted that in the past, burglars tried to kick in his bedroom door and the church's door. He said that one of the biggest items stolen was an organ. Thieves sawed off the legs of the instrument to get it down the second floor.
He added that the church may install security cameras or a higher fence inside so a person cannot go beyond the entranceway. Father Galvin also encourages visitors to report to police if they see any suspicious activity at the church.
"If you think something could be going on, please don't hold back and be afraid that you might seem foolish if you report it," Father Galvin said. "At the end of the day, I hope that they catch whoever did this so they won't do it to anybody else."