Crime & Courts

Man who stole from Catholic church not a burglar because the church doors were open

A man who stole sacramental objects from a Catholic church in Wellington won’t face burglary charges because the church doors were open, the Kansas Court of Appeals has ruled.

Prosecutors had charged Edward C. Glover with theft and burglary in connection with a 2017 incident at St. Anthony Catholic Church, according to court records.

The theft charge stuck, but the burglary charge was dismissed by the trial court, which prompted prosecutors to appeal.

Glover and an accomplice, Timothy Nash, had entered the unlocked church looking for money to steal, according to court records.

When they didn’t find any, Glover broke into the sacristy, a locked room within the church where the priest prepares for Mass.

Glover stole two chalices, one ciborium, and one paten.

A ciborium is the vessel that is used to store communion bread, and a paten is the plate used to serve it to the congregation.

Kansas law defines burglary as “unauthorized entry into a ‘building . . . or other structure,’” said the court opinion written by Chief Judge Karen Arnold-Burger.

Although Glover entered the church with the intent to steal, “The church itself was unlocked and open to the public,” the court opinion said.

And when Glover broke in to the sacristy, that wasn’t a burglary either, the ruling said.

“A room is not a building or structure under a common understanding of either word,” Arnold-Burger wrote. “A building is a building and a structure is a structure. The sacristy is neither.”

Senior Journalist Dion Lefler has been providing award-winning coverage of local government, politics and business in Wichita for 20 years. Dion hails from Los Angeles, where he worked for the LA Daily News, the Pasadena Star-News and other papers. He’s a father of twins, director of lay servant ministries in the United Methodist Church and plays second base for the Old Cowtown vintage baseball team.