Malin Rostas, 45, was arrested in Moreno Valley, California, following a traffic stop involving a vehicle described in reports of Catholic church burglaries across the United States.

Rostas, reportedly using the alias “Father Martin,” is accused of impersonating a Catholic priest to gain unauthorized access to church properties and steal money and valuables.

Law enforcement officials state that Rostas carefully researched each targeted church, learning the names of personnel and details about church layouts to aid his thefts. “He’s a vulture,” said Father Peter Raydar from American Martyrs Roman Catholic Church in Queens, New York, about Rostas’s approach to infiltrating churches.

Investigations have linked Rostas to multiple thefts, including $900 from the church in Queens and $1,700 from a church in Oregon. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department announced that additional charges related to an attempted burglary in Moreno Valley are forthcoming.

Authorities are encouraging other potential victims to report their experiences, as the ongoing investigation seeks to uncover the full extent of the crimes associated with Rostas.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is handling the investigation, with Rostas currently held on multiple charges, including an outstanding felony warrant from Pennsylvania.

Photo credit: Kamila Koziol /
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