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Woman arrested for stealing donations from Catholic Church

Posted at 11:33 AM, Jun 08, 2017

A woman in Polk County was arrested on Wednesday after being caught on surveillance video stealing clothes that had been donated to Saint Anthony Catholic Church in Lakeland. 

The surveillance video shows 54-year-old Annie Southerland, of Lakeland, drive around to the back of the church on May 14 and on June 3, take bags of donated clothing from the donation box, and loaded them into her white Ford Taurus.

When the church discovered the thefts and contacted the Polk County Sheriff's Office, detectives watched the two videos and ran the partial handicapped tag number seen on the car in the video. With that information, they were able to positively identify Southerland, who subsequently confessed to stealing the items. She told detectives she couldn't afford to buy clothing.

Southerland was arrested and charged with burglary and grand theft and was booked into the Polk County Jail where she is being held on $1,500 bond.

"Ms. Southerland could have simply asked the church for some clothes, if she wasn't able to afford any. That's why people donate to churches - to help those who are less fortunate," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.