Warrant: Man broke into Edina church, stole money collected for Cub Scouts

Police are investigating after money was stolen from an Edina church last month.

According to a search warrant application, Edina police were called to Our Lady of Grace Church on Jan. 12 on a report of a burglary.

Police said a man entered the church at 1 a.m. and walked into the sacristy. Once inside, the man attempted to break into a safe but was unsuccessful. The affidavit states the man then took money from a cash box for the Cub Scouts before leaving. However, tools were left at the scene and authorities processed them for DNA.

On Jan. 13, police responded to the church again on a report of property damage. The affidavit states a window was broken with a brick, but it was unclear if entry was made. Authorities also swabbed the brick for DNA.

After that incident, the affidavit states officers were able to identify the suspect in the burglary as 22-year-old Joseph Neil Reese.

On Jan. 17, police stopped Reese in a silver Jeep, which was spotted on the night of the burglary. The officer also smelled marijuana and Reese admitted to having marijuana in the vehicle, the affidavit states. As the officer searched Reese's vehicle, the officer picked up a book that was under a seat, and checks written to Our Lady of Grace fell out of it. However, since the officer was checking for marijuana, the checks were left in the vehicle.

When officers had probable cause to arrest Reese for the burglary, officers took him into custody.

According to the affidavit, Reese admitted to being in the surveillance images and to stealing the money. He also allegedly told police he tried to break into the safe but was unsuccessful, and he admitted he broke the church's window with a brick.

While executing a search warrant on his vehicle on Jan. 20, officers recovered 11 checks written to Our Lady of Grace Church or St. John Paul II Catholic School and an iPad that belonged to the church.

Officers also found a torn envelope with a Bloomington address on it, a AAA card belonging to someone in Bloomington, two stocking hats with holes cut for eyes and a mouth and a backpack with a prybar.

The affidavit states officers don't believe the incidents at the church were isolated and noted that a Cub Scouts trailer was taken from the church's parking lot about a week earlier.

Reese later alluded to the fact his friends were also stealing from the church, according to the affidavit.