COLONIE, NY (WRGB) A Colonie pastor is crediting good police work for the arrest of a 74-year-old man accused of stealing money from a church on Sunday.
Surveillance video helped police track down the elderly suspect who investigators say has a criminal history dating back four decades.
“You could tell he did it before, you could tell he was schooled at what he was doing.”
Pastor Charlie Mueller is usually in the media for giving to charity, but tonight he's here because charity donations were taken from his house of worship.
“It’s sad because if someone's in desperate need we're always willing to help them,” Mueller said.
74-year-old Robert Hoag is accused of swiping cash donations from an office at Victory Christian Church on Van Buren Avenue.
“Even though he slipped in and out without being seen he was caught on camera,” Mueller said.
Colonie Police Lt. Bob Winn says the church surveillance video shows Hoag going in through an unlocked door Sunday. The same man is seen leaving the church moments later, carrying a cane, but not using it to walk.
“And [he] stole an envelope that had approximately $1600 cash in it,” Winn said.
Church leaders didn't realize the money was missing until the next day, but when police showed up an investigator spotted Hoag just across the street.
“In fact, he was still wearing some of the clothing seen in the surveillance footage,” Winn said.
A check of Hoag's criminal record revealed he had four stints in state prison dating back to 1979, and police said Hoag had recent arrests for church burglaries from as recently as last year in Albany.
“I was just glad we caught him because word is he was robbing other churches, so to put him behind bars is where he needs to be right now,” Mueller said.
Lt. Winn says Hoag has been known to stay in homeless shelters in Albany and had most recently been staying at Albany's Ramada Inn.
Mueller says his church offers programs at the Albany County Jail, and says he hopes Hoag gets the help he needs while incarcerated.