St. Leonard Church in Boston’s North End was recently vandalized, the latest in a series of damaging incidents over the years to steal money from church candle boxes. The incident was reported to have occurred at approximately 9pm on March 22nd. The suspect was caught in the act by Fr. Antonio Nardoianni using a rigid wire to open the money box under the statue of Saint Lucy. The incident is believed to have been captured on church video with suspect running away.

Church theft suspect, Richard Shiner
(2013 BPDNews photo)

Church officials and Boston Police have identified Richard Shiner as the suspect, a familiar face from past incidents. Shiner was arrested in 2013 and 2010 for similar church box thefts in the North End and across Boston. Fr. Antonio Nardoianni, ofm, pastor of Saint Leonard Parish said, “My serious concerns are not simply about the money that he steals but rather about the safety of the many worshippers and visitors who enter our church every hour of the day.”

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The recent vandalism to the newly restored Saint Leonard Church on Hanover Street has resulted in damage to several pieces of furniture and religious items in the repeated attempts to steal. Several parishioners noted the suspect’s activities have continued on and off for several years.

Boston Police said they are following up on the latest incident and that a court hearing for Mr. Shiner will be scheduled in the immediate future.

All suspects are innocent until proven guilty.

18 COMMENTS

    • I think the state needs a “three strikes and your out” law. This guy is barely put away and he’s out doing the same thing again.

  1. It’s obvious that the apparent slap on the wrists has not deterred this ——- behavior. A dose of street justice might be the answer.

  2. Calm down guys. You can see from his photo that he is not ‘right’ mentally.
    I agree with Father …. it’s more an issue of safety for the parishioners who sit quietly in the pews.

  3. He is familiar to the church? So why hasn’t anyone grab this scumbag and lock him up, what are they waiting for him to do hurt some old lady in the pews

    • Hate to say it, but that is probably what will happen before they take this guy seriously. How many of these stories that lead to a fatality do you read where the perp has a long history with police? The lack of serious punitiff measures encourages escalation based on the belief that the worst that can happen isn’t that bad. Eventually someone will seriously hurt and then who knows what they will do with this guy.

  4. Incapable of physically hurting anyone, unless he has a gun, which I doubt.
    Scumbag? Your comments are beyond……

    • Heather
      Do you know this man? How do you know he is incapable of hurting an elderly person unless he has a gun? In your previous comment you said that you can tell he is not right mentally Not even a trained mental health professional would make that statement. Your comment is ridiculous. Stop defending this guy. P Caruso is right robbing from a church makes him a scumbag.

  5. Unfortunately that is a reason why many churches are locked up after the 9 o’clock mass in the mornings,, you can’t even go in a church in Malden unless you go to mass because of people like him,, it’s so sad after all that work they did at saint Leonard’s,,at least you know if your down the north end you can always go to saint Leonard’s and talk to god light a candle,,it’s a shame ,,people like him have the devil in him because how desperate you are for money you don’t touch a church’s money ,, and he did. No conscience,, may god help him he needs it,,

  6. To me all churches are sacred. Many of us who grew up here and others who are former residents have bid farewell to their mothers ,fathers husbands,wives ,children brothers and sisters as well as friends at Saint Leonard’s church so it holds a special significance to us and we take this inexcusable act very personal.I felt the same way when the “Fireman’s boot” that collects money for the MD society and has been a tradition in the NE for decades was stolen twice in the last few years.

  7. Small neighborhoods often have long-time residents with histories of familial events. Most inhabitants of these neighborhoods around the world are very protective of special landmarks and churches. But, there exist no walls and barriers to keep questionable people out and away, and that is life in the city. We should not take it so personally. We need thicker skin in these days. We must understand that what happens here, happens all over the world. We need to embrace city life without having tunnel vision about OUR NEIGHBORHOOD. There have been worse atrocities….killings in the streets; gangs; money laundering. This is a nice neighborhood, but there really do exist such neighborhoods all over the US.

    • It’s actually becoming a national trend. Increasingly, churches are being targeted. South Carolina and Texas are where churches were used as shooting galleries. The conundrum, is churches are meant to be open and welcoming to all types. Then there some types that view churches as an easy target. But any easy target will do. Ever wonder where your packages disappear to around Christmas.

    • Heather, anything that happens here I take personally because that is the way I was brought up and I am well aware [believe me ] of some of the things that have happened in this neighborhood that I am not proud of. It sounds like your taking it personal in your continued defense of this person.Just because there have been worse atrocities and crimes in the past doesn’t justify defending someone who steals from a church and has done it several times before.You do not have to build walls or barriers to keep “questionable” people out. If this person does not live here and my guess is that he lives on the streets or in a shelter and he targets Saint’s Leonard’s church because as T. Mobile pointed out it’s an easy mark a judge and a court CAN and should order him to stay out of the neighborhood.Yes their are nice neighborhoods all over the US but my concern is this neighborhood.

  8. One suggestion is to have envelopes that people can drop into the Sunday collection instead of having the collection box by the candles. I’m sure Genio can handle the extra load.

  9. Michael D: My comments are not a defense for this man. Well, my very first comment was. However, the last comment was aimed at the bella figura and obsessive nature of the people in this neighborhood. We can all be a bit more objective about the events that happen in the ‘hood, but to take it personally is not productive, and I must say, a bit immature.

    • Ah come on Heather. Michael has every right to care about the neighborhood he both grew up in and chooses to continue to live in. And if someone steals from his parish, it is personal. Yes there are worse things that occur in worse neighborhoods. But the reason things are like that in these types of neighborhoods is because the residents don’t give a damn and figure their only salvation is to one day get the hell out. And I will also add, that I have first hand experience living a neighborhood like that and I do know the difference.

      • T, I don’t expect everyone to understand how I feel about this issue but apparently you do and I appreciate it….Michael

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