Man who allegedly stole cash from 'Poor Box' at Bell Gardens church in custody, police say

- A man who allegedly pretended to pray before stealing money from the donation box at a Bell Gardens church was in custody Thursday, police said.

The arrest of Mario Mendez, a 54-year-old transient, followed the release Tuesday of security video of the June 15 theft at St. Gertrude the Great Church at 7025 Garfield Ave.

A "concerned resident'' who saw the video on a newscast recognized the suspect and contacted police, according to Detective Don Leuschen of the Bell Gardens Police Department.

Detectives found Mendez at a Bell Gardens shopping center and arrested him about 9 p.m. Wednesday.

"When confronted with the video evidence, Mendez admitted to the crime,'' according to a BGPD statement.

Mendez was booked on suspicion of burglary and vandalism and was being held on $20,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear in court on Friday in Downey.

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