Man charged in theft of Belleville pastor’s laptop – NorthJersey.com
Father Ivan Sciberras of St. Peter’s Church in Belleville just wanted his old laptop computer for Christmas.
The laptop was the primary object of a theft, right after Sciberras began celebrating the 10 a.m. Mass at St. Peter’s on Dec. 13.
“It’s kind of a big one,” he said of the older model portable computer last week. “I used it as a PC.”
Sciberras believed the suspect had checked out the church beforehand, to ensure that Sciberras would be occupied that morning, and then managed to make his way into the rectory where a door was believed to have been unlatched.
A weekend receptionist apparently did not see or hear the thief going through Sciberras’ office for several minutes. A charger was also taken along with the laptop, which was unhooked from the phone line in the room. The person then strolled out the door, with the laptop under his jacket.
Surveillance cameras around the church picked up the suspect, whose face and head appeared to be wrapped, obscuring his identity. The suspect walked around outside the church for about a minute, before ultimately heading north.
Sciberras said he has used the laptop since he originally came to St. Peter’s as its pastor six-and-a-half years ago. He last backed up his data on it several months ago, excluding correspondence and other works he had written on it since then.
“There’s not much monetary value, but there’s a lot of work inside it,” Sciberras said of his laptop.
“The police told me they have had a lot of success with crime, and have been getting tips,” said Sciberras, who met with Belleville police officers two days after the theft to show them the surveillance video.
His patience apparently paid off. He said in an email on Thursday that the laptop had been returned, but that it had been reformatted.
Belleville police arrested Kenneth Chamberlain, 63, in Newark around 4 p.m. on Dec. 16 after getting a tip from social media, where Chamberlain’s photo had been posted and where he was recognized by someone. Capt. Daniel Ward said that Chamberlain was taken into custody, was charged with burglary and theft, and was held on $100,000 bail, with a 10 percent option. The suspect had sold Sciberras’ laptop, but it was returned to police headquarters by the customer, where it was found to have been reformatted or wiped.