Arrest made in North Branford church thefts

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NORTH BRANFORD – Francis Casner, Jr., from East Haven, was arrested Thursday by North Branford police and accused in a series of church thefts under investigation. He’s charged with three counts of 6th-degree larceny and one count of 5th-degree larceny.

Police say he confessed his involvement in stealing from Saint Augustine Church on Caputo Road Tuesday morning and also in February, when a laptop computer and a metal cash box were reported stolen.

Casner was identified by police using security surveillance video and by an eyewitness who reported suspicious activity at Saint Augustine’s.

At the time of his arrest, Casner was driving a Chevy pickup with an assortment of bulletins from local churches on the passengers seat.

The bulletins were from Saint Bridget in Cheshire, Saint Mark in Westbrook, Saint Margaret Church in Madison, Saint Rita Church in Hamden and Saint Theresa Church in Trumbull.

Police also found a cash box that belonged to Saint Augustine, a wooden cash box with the words “Book Offering” written on it, a purse that was reported stolen from Saint George’s Church in Guilford on Monday, a set of car keys belonging to Fairfield University that was stolen from the Jesuit Community Center located on the campus of Fairfield University and an open envelope containing numerous personal checks written to churches along southern Connecticut for donations.

He is scheduled to appear in court on April 22 in New Haven.