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Neighbor held in break-in of convent on East Side

A 20-year-old Buffalo man is accused of committing what some might call a terrible sin.

Andrew J. Johnson is charged with breaking into an East Side convent, not far from his home, while the nuns slept early Wednesday and stealing some of their religious items and money.

Johnson entered St. Lawrence Catholic Church's convent, on Roma Street just behind the church at 1520 E. Delavan Ave., at about 5 a.m., police said.

They said the burglar took a ceremonial candle from the sanctuary and walked around the hallways, holding the lighted candle to find his way, as wax dripped all over him and the church.

He rummaged through the purses of several nuns, stealing one nun's credit card, $20, two sets of car keys, house keys, church keys and a convent credit card. When a priest saw the burglar leaving the convent, the priest tried to talk to him, but the burglar ran away with the belongings, police said.

"He's committing a burglary while nuns are sleeping and breaking into a building in the middle of the night, so he should be considered a dangerous felon," said Northeast District Detective Joseph Martin, who investigated the case with Detective Douglas Kopp.

The burglar might have gotten away if not for the alert work of some police officers later that day.

Officers Angelo Threats and Milton Jeffries were on patrol at 7 p.m. Wednesday when they spotted Johnson blocking a pedestrian walkway in the 1000 block of East Delavan.

Johnson refused the officers' repeated orders to move along, and they discovered 17 small bags of marijuana in his possession and the two stolen credit cards from the convent in his back pocket, police said.

The case was turned over to Kopp and Martin, who used a photo array to identify Johnson as the burglar, police said. The detectives also confiscated the candle and Johnson's clothes to test for wax.

Johnson, who lives on East Delavan several houses from the church, was charged with burglary, grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, unlawful possession of marijuana and disorderly conduct. He was arraigned Thursday in Buffalo City Court and was being held in the Erie County Holding Center on $50,000 bail.


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