AURIESVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Montgomery County Sheriff‘s office investigating a theft that occurred at the Auriesville shrine over the weekend.

The donation box was hanging on a pilar at the Our Lady of Martyrs Shrine Coliseum and was broken into around 5 p.m. Sunday. The money inside was stolen.

“A gentleman enters the front door of the Coliseum with either a long screwdriver or pry bar of some nature and pried open or donation bin, which normally hangs right here near the door, [it] was swung open,” said Executive Director Julie Baaki.

The shrine, a symbol of religion in the new world, and the church says it is the place of the first mass reading in what would become the United States, dating back to the 17th century. It has become the migration point for many Christians around the world.

“We keep the doors open to the Coliseum so that people can come in and pray. We have a lot of pilgrims that come up here to pray on these holy grounds and we want to make sure that the doors are able to stay open for people to come in and pray,” said Baaki.

Baaki says that the money is used to keep those doors open.

Sheriff Jeff Smith releasing the surveillance video, hoping that the community will recognize something in the video that will help them identify the burglar.

“There is a fairly distinct coat that the suspect is wearing, you know, so we just asked for people to pay attention to that,” said Smith.  

It is unclear how much was taken from the donation box, but the sheriff says they are taking these crimes seriously.

“So, it’s a felony. It would be a burglary and a criminal mischief. They damaged the box. And then a larceny, a petty larceny, or a grand larceny depending on how much the value actually was,” said Smith.

Baaki tells NEWS10 the church has taken steps to avoid this in the future.

“You can see now that our caretaker has removed the donation bins from the shrine so that we are not a target for robberies anymore. People are able to make online donations. That is the absolute best way to do it, for both them and for us,” said Baaki.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s office would like anyone with information regarding the theft to please call (518) 853-5500.