Thieves Steal $230 in Change from Holy Hill Pond
TOWN OF ERIN - It's one of the most popular sites at the Holy Hill shrine. For years people have thrown coins in the Grotto Pond for good blessing. No one ever imagined someone would decide to take that blessing away.
"I don't think anyone's ever taken money from the Lord's grotto before," said Father Jude Peters.
A caretaker noticed the missing change one day when the shiny coins weren't shining. They were stolen.
The Washington County Sheriff's Department thinks juveniles stole nearly $200 worth of coins from the pond.
"It's really sad. It just makes me want to cry that someone would even think of doing that," said shrine visitor Mary Ellen Sparks.
Thousands of Catholics come to the Holly Hill shrine each year. The site is officially called The Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians, at Holy Hill.
Holy Hill has been defaced before. Back in 2006, Tyler Groth and his cousin David Groth vandalized dozens of statues at the shrine with red spray paint.
They also painted the numbers 6-6-6 and a few disgusting phrases.
David Groth received 18 months in state prison for desecrating the shrine.
Tyler Groth was sentenced to just six months in county jail. Tyler bragged to TODAY'S TMJ4 about the vandalism. On camera he said, "I'm a punk, it's what I do."
The red paint was sandblasted off of the statues at Holy Hill, but people who work there said the vandalism is something the community won't ever forget.