PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - Only on WINK: thousands of dollars of equipment was stolen from a Punta Gorda Church, but a twist of fate brings some of it back.
At the Church of the Nazarene, they go by 10 important rules known as The 10 Commandments. Apparently some people forgot about number 8: "Thou shalt not steal."
Early Tuesday morning, Santino Peralta's dog started barking. "I looked out the window sill to see what was going on, see someone standing right next to my car, so I flip on the light," Peralta said.
The man ran toward a black SUV in the church parking lot and sped off.
Turns out, thieves broke into the church, stealing computers, projectors and radios. "Not only did they take a lot of expensive equipment, but they ate cookies!" Pastor John Denby laughed. "They had cookies and stuff spread all over the place."
Later in the day, Pastor Denby got a strange call. Someone said they'd bought equipment, and thought it came from the church. The anonymous man promised to somehow return it. Soon after, Denby got another call. It was from a Deacon at a nearby church.
"He said this is probably the strangest call I ever made, and I don't know what this is about, but your name is here and a phone number, and to call you about this stuff," Denby said.
Now, Punta Gorda Police want to know who made the first phone call, and if they were involved. "There's probably some guilt out there as far as the persons involved so maybe the want to ease some of that guilt by returning some of the property," Detective Martin Meddaugh said.
"You need to turn your life around and quit this bologna," Denby warned, "There's legitimate ways to make it without stealing."
Although this story has somewhat of a happy ending, not everything, like a safe, has been returned. They're hoping that perhaps some divine intervention will help that be brought back as well.
The church's biggest expense will likely involve repairing the wires connecting the a/v equipment that were torn out of the ceiling. If you have any experience in that area and wish you help, you can give them a call at (941) 639-3663.