METHUEN (CBS) – A man suspected of stealing a donation box and several other items from a Methuen mosque was arrested after he became the victim of an armed robbery while he was working to fish money from the stolen box.

The donation box was reported stolen from Selimiye Mosque, along with a computer, a laptop, a network router and a video camera on either Thursday, June 2, or Friday, June 3.

Later in the day Friday, Methuen Police responded to Railroad Street after 38-year-old William Ortiz was the victim of an alleged armed robbery.

Police say Ortiz was robbed while he was trying to fish money out of the donation box with a coat hanger in the middle of a parking lot.

After interviewing Ortiz, police arrested him and recovered the property that had been stolen from the mosque. He was charged with breaking and entering and larceny of property over $250.

A man was arrested after he allegedly stole a donation box from a mosque. (Image Credit: Methuen Police)

A man was arrested after he allegedly stole a donation box from a mosque. (Image Credit: Methuen Police)

Police continued to investigate the incident, eventually arresting Josue Marrero and Medina Pimental. Both men are from Lawrence.

Marrero and Pimental were charged with robbing Ortiz.

Officers also found more than 54 grams of heroin inside their Lawrence home, along with a stolen gun that was loaded.

Both men were charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, receiving stolen property over $250, trafficking heroin and armed robbery.

Police believe drug money was the motivation for the robberies.

“This is a very unfortunate situation that resulted in two criminal incidents and three people arrested,” Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon said. “Thankfully, our Methuen Police detectives conducted an aggressive investigation and were able to quickly solve these incidents without further disruption to our community.”


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