By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — A Warsaw man was recently arrested after allegedly stealing a statue of Jesus from a local church, as well as food from a grocery store.
John Thomas Alford, 56, 944 E. Garfield St., Warsaw, is charged with two counts of theft, both class A misdemeanors; and two counts of theft with a prior conviction -enhancement, both level 6 felonies.
On April 24, Warsaw police responded to a report of a theft of a Jesus statue from Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Warsaw. The man took the statue and left the scene on a bicycle, with the parish priest following the suspect in his vehicle. Officers found the suspect – Alford – near Oakwood Cemetery. The officers told Alford to dismount from his bicycle.
According to court documents, as Alford got off his bicycle and turned around, the officers noticed a large bulge in Alford’s jacket. One of the officers told Alford to put the statue on the ground, but Alford told the officer he didn’t have a statue. The officers then asked Alford to put whatever he had in his jacket on the ground. Alford removed four packages of lunch meat and two blocks of cheese from his jacket. Alford told the officers he had just purchased the items from Owen’s supermarket but that he had thrown the bag and receipt away.
Officers spoke with Sacred Heart’s parish priest, who said he saw Alford grab the statue from its place near the church’s rectory. The priest yelled at Alford to bring the statue back, but Alford took the statue and fled on a bicycle. When the priest learned Alford was no longer in possession of the statue, the priest backtracked along the route he saw Alford take and found the statue in an alley.
Officers also contacted Owen’s supermarket security department to inquire about Alford. Security footage showed Alford enter and exit the store in a three-minute time span. Alford did not pay for the food items that were located on his person by officers.
Alford has a prior conviction for theft and was convicted in 2015.
In this case, Alford was booked in the Kosciusko County Jail on April 24, with a $5,250 surety and cash bond.