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Man broke into church to feed his starving family, say police

Crime Watch

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Abraham Acevedo-Alvarado | Bonneville County Jail

IDAHO FALLS — An Idaho Falls man broke into a church to feed his starving family, police say.

The Idaho Falls Police Department was called to the Holy Rosary Church on Oct 13 when someone found damage to the property. According to an affidavit of probable cause obtained by, investigators identified the suspect as Abraham Acevedo-Alvarado, 36, who turned himself in at the police department two days later.

At the church, police found a donation box pried from the wall. The facilities manager at the church said the money doesn’t stay in the box but goes into a safe in the next room, which Acevedo-Alvarado apparently figured out. Damage to the safe showed someone had tried unsuccessfully to get inside.

Police spoke with Acevedo-Alvarado, who said he broke into the church looking for something to help him feed his kids. Acevedo-Alvarado said he and his family were evicted and had been homeless for several months. The family of nine had been sleeping in a pickup truck and hotels, according to court documents.

“He told me he said a prayer in the chapel to ask for forgiveness for what he was about to do,” an officer wrote in a police report.

Acevedo-Alvarado told officers that as he checked the cabinets for food, he saw the donation box. That’s when he said he spent about two hours trying to fish cash out from inside and prying the safe open. Someone started coming inside the church as Acevedo-Alvarado slipped out the unlocked door he had used to get in.

Police also spoke with Acevedo-Alvarado’s wife. She said she found out about the incident when the church posted a surveillance photo of her husband on Facebook. She said she knew it was wrong but also understood why he did it. She also said the seven kids recently had to split a single hamburger for dinner.

Acevedo-Alvarado was not arrested when he talked to police about the burglary. A warrant for him was issued a few days later.

Arrest and drug charges

On Oct. 23, officers were called to conduct a welfare check at the Candlewood Suites. Hotel staff said Acevedo-Alvarado’s wife checked into the hotel with around seven kids and were concerned for their wellbeing.

Officers went to the room and Acevedo-Alvarado opened the door with a dog and five kids inside. His wife was also inside but hiding while Acevedo-Alvarado tried saying she left, according to court documents.

Police placed Acevedo-Alvarado into handcuffs for the warrant. When searching him, police said they found bags of methamphetamine. Acevedo-Alvarado said he planned on selling the drugs. Officers also discovered a residue-covered pipe, which Acevedo-Alvarado said he used to smoke meth.

Police arrested Acevedo-Alvarado’s wife on a warrant put out by probation officers, and the five kids were placed in the custody of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Court documents don’t specify what happened to the two other children.

Acevedo-Alvarado is charged with felony burglary, felony possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. He remains held in the Bonneville County Jail on a total of $40,000 bail.

A preliminary hearing for Acevedo-Alvarado is scheduled for Nov. 6. If convicted, the felony drug charge holds up to life in prison. Felony burglary holds up to 10 years in prison, and the misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to one year in jail.

Although Acevedo-Alvarado is charged with a crime, it does not automatically mean he committed it. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.