BALTIMORE (CNS) — Apparent good Samaritans turned out to be nothing of the sort after allegedly stealing Christmas presents from two Little Sisters of the Poor outside the Costco in Columbia near Baltimore Nov. 26.
Mother Superior Joseph Caroline Beutler and Sister Bernadette Mary Wilson, who care for the elderly poor at St. Martin’s Home for the Aged in Catonsville, were taking advantage of holiday sales to purchase $510 worth of items, including blankets and socks they intended to give as gifts to the employees of St. Martin’s at an upcoming Christmas party.
At approximately 5:15 p.m., Mother Joseph Caroline said, they were approached by a man who offered to help them outside the store as it began to rain.
Accompanied by a woman Mother Joseph Caroline described as “very nervous,” the man pushed their carts and loaded packages into the Little Sisters’ car in what the sisters assumed was a gesture of goodwill.
“The next thing we knew, the carts were empty,” she told the Catholic Review, the news outlet of the Baltimore Archdiocese. “It wasn’t until we got home that we realized that we only had about half our packages. There was $220 worth of merchandise stolen. When we turned our backs, he must have gone off with the goods.”
Sherry Llewellyn, director of public affairs for the Howard County Police Department, said a police report has not been filed, but an investigation has been opened.
“We have not seen a trend of incidents like this,” she said.
Marcy Shea-Frank, director of development for the Little Sisters of the Poor, said the sisters were notified by Costco officials Nov. 27 that a flatbed of merchandise believed to have been purchased by the sisters was found on the store’s property.
It was not in the same location as where the sisters were Nov. 26. Mother Joseph Caroline believes the alleged thieves had a change of heart or decided they didn’t want the items after they saw what they were.
Mother Joseph Caroline said she is grateful that no one was hurt during the incident. She noted that after the sisters realized they had been scammed, Sister Bernadette Mary wanted to go back to the site to find the suspects.
“I told her I didn’t think that was a good idea,” Mother Joseph Caroline said with a laugh. “We don’t want to jeopardize our safety.”
Mother Joseph Caroline said the sisters forgive those who allegedly robbed them, noting that they continue to believe in the goodness of people.
Mother Joseph Caroline hopes to raise awareness for the elderly and others who may be vulnerable while shopping.
“There was a woman in front of us on a scooter and oxygen,” she said, “and she had packages. We want to make sure others are aware for their own protection.”
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: As caravan concerns rise, bishops urge respect, compassion for migrants
NEXT: House passes measure to provide humanitarian aid to genocide victims
Share this story