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Man Arrested for Burglarizing Churches to 'Get Back at God,' DA Says

By Katie Honan | April 13, 2017 8:16am

ELMHURST — A homeless man was arrested on hate crime charges after breaking into Queens houses of worship to "get back at God," according to the district attorney's office. 

Joseph Woznik, 23, is accused of breaking into the Bangladesh Hindu Mandir in Elmhurst, the Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians/St. Mary's of Winfield in Woodside, St. Mary's Romanian Orthodox Church in Elmhurst and St. James Episcopal Church in Elmhurst, which he hit three times, officials said. 

He took cash, checks, a gold-plated drawer used for communion and a digital camera, which he pawned for money, according to the DA. 

When he was arrested, he told police he broke into the religious sites because he was angry at God, the criminal complaint said.

“I’m mad at God. I don’t like church no more," he told police, according to the complaint. "I don’t want to deal with religion. I’m sick and tired of hearing about religion. I don’t break into houses, only churches. I break in to get back at God.”

He also is wanted for burglary in Orange County, Florida, the DA said. 

Woznik began his spree when he burglarized the Hindu temple on March 21, ripping open a donation box and taking an unknown amount of cash from inside, police said.

Three days later he broke into St. James Church, swiping a lockbox with $1,800 in cash after climbing through a church window, officials said. On April 3, he stole a digital camera from the church after forcing his way inside an office. 

A week later he broke back into the church through a window, stealing a checkbook, the DA said.

He burglarized St. Mary's Romanian Orthodox Church and Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians that same day, ripping open a donation box with a hammer and taking a $20 bill from underneath a statue of the Virgin Mary, according to officials.

He also stole a gold-plated drawer used for communion and the church's seal embosser from St. Mary's, the DA said. 

Woznik is waiting to be arraigned on two separate criminal complaints charging him with, among other things, burglary as a hate crime and criminal possession of stolen property.

He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.