Thou Shalt Not Steal: Priest Accused of Shoplifting

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By Terri Parker, WPBF

BOCA RATON, Florida (WPBF) -- An $895 picture frame went missing from a Neiman Marcus store in Boca Raton, Florida, and surveillance video led police to arrest a Catholic priest. The priest has apologized to his parishioners, but says he's no shoplifter.

Police say surveillance video inside Neiman Marcus last December shows Father Giuseppe Savaia picking up an $895 picture frame. He then walks out of camera range, holding the frame.

According to the arrest report, a Neiman Marcus loss prevention officer says she saw Savaia then conceal the frame in his jacket and leave the store without paying for it.

The report says Neiman Marcus did not notify police because they couldn't ID the man.

But they did distribute his picture to surrounding stores.

Six days later, the report says Neiman Marcus received a call from another Neiman Marcus store in Sawgrass Mills, where Sunrise police had just arrested Savaia for shoplifting. The report says he took two Italian coats.

The Diocese says on June 30, Savaia handed out a letter to parishioners, writing, in part, "I apologize to the parish of Saint Clare for the embarrassment and confusion this has caused."

Savaia wrote that at that request of the bishop, he is taking time away to "tend to personal duress" as well as "establishing my innocence."

The Diocese said in a statement, "We're aware of it, and we're just working with him and he's taking time off while he's trying to resolve this issue."

Father Savaia maintains his innocence. He faces charges of grand theft and retail theft.