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Ceres man arrested in theft of church money
Robbery suspect
Oscar Sanchez of Ceres

A 27-year-old Ceres man was arrested days after police said he stole a suitcase containing a Modesto church's weekly deposits outside of a bank.

Detectives quickly identify Oscar Sanchez of Ceres as the suspect and conducted a probation search of his home on Wednesday. Detectives found evidence linking him to the theft. A large amount of cash and checks were recovered and returned to the church. Sanchez was booked for felony grand theft and violation of probation.

The theft occurred at approximately 11:20 a.m. on Monday at a downtown bank.Officers learned that the victim and a witness were approaching the bank, wheeling a suitcase, to make a weekly deposit for The House Church on Coffee Road. As they approached the front door, a suspect wearing black clothing and a hooded sweatshirt ran up to the pair, grabbed the suitcase and fled in a minivan.

Police gave a number of tips to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim while making deposits at ATMs or approaching banks:

• Trust your instincts. If you sense trouble, get away as quickly as possible.

• Show confidence. Walk at a steady pace and keep your head up and arms free.

• Be observant. Remain on high alert and observe people around you.

• Change your routine. If you conduct daily or weekly business at the bank, change up the days and/or times you visit. Keep money close to your body. You may also want to consider using an armored service for larger transactions.

• See it, say it. If you see or hear something suspicious, leave the area immediately and call police.