"Thou Shalt Not Steal" .. and the collection plate/basket


Apparently, some people missed that day in catechism class that are coming to my parish either as visitors or regulars.

Our pastoral adminstrator has asked the ushers and also to the congregation to keep a tighter eye on the collection baskets as a few people were observed taking from them. My parish passes the baskets around then when they get to a certain section, people bring them to the large basket in front of the altar, then hand the small basket to one of the 2 ushers stationed there. The ushers are now moving the large basket with offerings under the altar when all baskets are collected. Also, the ushers are to ask a few people in various parts of the worships space they know well to help keep an eye on the baskets and later on as some people are stealing from/taking purses/handbags of females as when they go to receive for Holy Communion. A few ushers are asked to watch from the back of the church for suspicious activity like people constantly moving around like they are trying to steal. One usher is to immediately go to the altar to get the large basket when the closing hymn and procession is going on as well.

If someone is truly in need, my church and the diocese can try to help and/or direct people to get help. No need to steal from the collection baskets and/or the purses of females in the congregation during Holy Communion.

Has anyone experienced this issue, if so did the pastor or someone take steps to protect offerings and purses?


wow, i have never heard of this. i will pray for your parish though


You should get tamper proof bags such as these available online and at most office supply stores and put all the cash money and checks directly into them from the small baskets before taking the money to the altar in the large basket. That will lessen the likelihood of someone stealing from the plate, unless they steal the entire bag.

I am not sure how they would be able to go up on the altar and take money out of the basket without being stopped. ??? If theft is an issue, then ushers should take the money in tamper proof bags directly to the safe and lock it in rather than taking it to the altar.

If people are taking money out of the basket when it passes them, well, not much you can do about that other than keep a better eye on the basket and confront them when it occurs.

Talk to your pastor about the situation. The diocese should have money handling procedures they can share with you.

As for purses, make an announcement that women should not leave purses in the pew at communion time, but should keep their purses with them at all times, including communion. I always take my purse with me at communion when I am in any city.

This is a problem in many large parishes/cities. You need to make people aware of theft and that the need to keep their purses closed and secure at all times.



but I have seen people “make change.” :stuck_out_tongue:


Hi MissRose73,

I am very sorry that this is happening in your parish.

It is also terrible that people are stealing from the ladie’s purses.

In one of the parishes I attended, the ushers used the long-handled baskets on a pole during collection time. They would lean forward, facing in the pew, and slide the basket down the pew to take the envelopes/money from the parishioners.

I would think that if anyone were to try taking anything, the usher would have seen it happen right in front of them, and so would the other parishioners.


Some people make change in the collection plate. I try to pay by check and would prefer to pay online because cash will tempt thieves in the church, on the way to the office, and on the way to the bank. I assume most petty thieves want money for drugs or alcohol not for necessities.

I also try to empty my purse of valuables such as cash and credit cards. My parish has only had problems with thieves in the parking lot. So far.


A parish I went to during the summer does it this way, less temptation for people to steal or “make change”. Perhaps my parish should consider it, we have a few people that are woodworkers of some type that could do that.

I cannot take my purse with me at the times I assist with Communion distribution. My mother always wears dress trousers/pants and places her wallet in one pocket, and her keys to her car in the other. I cannot do that as I would need lots of pockets for my 2 sets of keys (car/home), a wallet and a new mobile phone. I don’t trust that someone won’t break into my car in the parking lot to get my wallet and mobile phone as my area has had issues locally with thieves getting into (even locked) cars in search of valuables.

At least, a few people that know me and/or my mother keep an eye on things when we serve or go up to receive if we are not assisting.


At my parish, the ushers use the collection baskets that are on long handles and can watch what goes in (or out). At the end, they immediately combine all of the baskets into one, large brightly colored drawstring bag and carry it up to altar where it remains, in plain view, until the end of Mass. Before the priest even reaches the door at the recessional procession, someone has scooped up the bag and locked it up in the safe. Our parish is on a busy main street, that connects directly to a freeway; we have had problems in the past, but it seems to be under control now. We used to have a collection box for money for the poor, but it got broken into so many times, the pastor had it removed. The sad thing is that we have a HUGE network of assistance for people in need. Anyone can knock on the rectory door at anytime and get food, or a voucher for lodging for the night, or even gas or a ride to a shelter, etc… I guess some people think it’s better to take than ask.


MissRose 73, I’m so sorry this has happened in your parish. :frowning:

The church where I grew up used the long-handled baskets, but the parish I go to now has some sections with really long pews, so we pass the baskets. I haven’t heard of any theft occurring so far.


That is totally chauvinistic and unfair. They should have the decency to steal from the males’ purses, too.
:smiley: :smiley: :smiley:


I have seen this done, as well as heard of candle money being taken and money from the poor box.

Our parish has a locked box that all of the collection is dumped into by one of the Ushers directly after the Offering. Our Candles and related monies are now kept locked up with one or two Ushers a Mass assigned to that aspect of money collection. The tubes that allow money to travel to a container for the poor box have been reinforced and are now locked.

Here is a personal experience: In 2004 my sister had major surgery in September and then was in the hospital in December. The same night she was admitted our mother died in her sleep. We made arrangements for her funeral and put someone in charge of the cards and flowers as they came in.

One of my sister’s employers knew how ill she had been and when they came to our mothers funeral they had a card for her, and enough money in it to cover my sisters rent and bills for a month. The person watching the cards…his grandson took the money.

I find this awful, and so hurtful for all concerned. Stealing is a sin, but to steal from the Church, to take from the generosity and compassion of others, from God himself, is much, much worse. It is a sad reality.


Why don’t you guys just have the ushers go around with the collection baskets to ensure that no one takes anything?

This is insane, though, that we can’t even be safe from thieves at church! :eek:


I always wondered about that because A few times and it is completely poor planning on my part, I have had $1 and $20 and could have used some change but I could never bring myself to make change.


When I lived in DC, I used to attend mass in the city like right near the White House and I couldn’t figure out why no one sat in the back until I pulled out the kneeler and there was a person sleeping under the pew in front of me, it was the first and only time I ever swore in church but it scared the poop out of me. I am from the country it never occurred to that people sleep under the pews.


This is nothing new. In the early 1960s someone took my purse from the pew in church when I went to communion. It was later found outside near the convent on premises. Since I was a young teen, there was really nothing of value in it so nothing was taken.
I’ve been in other churches where the pastor announced for the women to take their purses with them to communion because of previous theft problems.
I’ve never seen people take money out of the collection baskets while being passed but the places around here use the baskets on long handled poles.


That is quite shocking. I have never heard of anything like that happening in my own parish, but then we are a small, friendly parish. Money is left unaccompanied sitting in the collection basket on the edge of the sanctuary after Mass and people walk by it and nothing is ever taken.

Today I had a panic for about half an hour as I couldn’t find my wallet anywhere and figured I must have lost it at Midnight Mass. All my credit cards and £200 cash in it. My wife’s reply was, “don’t worry, if you’ve lost it at Mass someone will have handed it in and it’ll be in the church safe” and she’s right, that’s what would almost certainly have happened in that case. As it was it turned up behind a book case at home.

If someone is going to Mass and then committing a grave sin while they are there, then why are they going to Mass at all?


A while ago, someone broke into our parish and stole a gold chalice and maybe something else, I don’t remember. Our pastor said that he pressed charges, and I think the guy was arrested. Also, one time, at Easter mass, my mom said someone stole money from her purse. It only happened once and it wasn’t enough money to warrant calling the police.
When the Chalice was stolen, our pastor strongly emphasized that they were willing to help those in need, but that stealing was unacceptable. (I’m paraphrasing here, and going on memory from something that happened over a year ago.)


Theft goes on in all places. Write checks for your Sunday offering as cash is often pocketed by the money counters.


We just had one Parish robbed of it’s entire Christmas collection early this morning. Who ever did it, broke doors down and seemed to know exactly where to find the money, in a separate locked closet. This suggests to me that it was an insider who was familiar with the procedures of the Parish. Sick.

Our Parish was broken into more than once, and as I said before we had candle money and poor box money taken. It was discovered to be the joint work of an Usher and a Sacrastin. Really!



Would it be immoral for the police to get involved?

…just wondering…

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