Baltimore’s most historic Catholic church nearly lost some of its signage early this morning to two accused thieves, one by the name of Pope.
Police say they caught the men shortly after they loaded four large brass signs inscribed with “The Baltimore Basilica -America’s First Cathedral,” into the back of a car. In addition to the insignias, cops also recovered a crowbar.
Officers had responded to the intersection of N. Charles and E. Fayette streets at around 3:45 a.m. for a report of a “suspicious person” standing on the corner. An citywide camera operator directed them to a man later identified as Anthony Pope, 53, loading what were thought to be paintings into his car nearby on W. Mulberry Street.
The officers soon after apprehended their second suspect, 41-year-old Sean Smith, who was observed on camera walking to and from the car, according to police.
One of them may have attempted to downplay his role in the alleged crime: according to police, the unidentified suspect uttered, “I didn’t steal anything, I was only a lookout,” while being questioned.
The officers returned the brass signs to the Basilica. The Archdiocese of Baltimore hasn’t responded to a request for comment on the incident.
Both Smith and Pope face charges of felony theft and destruction of property. Pope pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree burglary charge in December, while Smith has a court hearing in August for a burglary and theft case from earlier this month, per court records. The latter had been released after a bail review hearing five days ago.
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