The pastor declined to comment.
Police have a general description of the man they think may have stolen the money. However, since nobody actually saw him steal the money, he is not a suspect and is considered a person of interest at this time.
It happened just before noon right after a Sunday service.
The collection baskets filled with cash and checks were placed on a table in the front of the pews. "While the pastor was talking to some of the folks that normally attend the church, someone took, stole the money they had collected during the mass," Palo Alto Police Agent Marco Estrada said. "It's estimated that between $8,000 and $10,000 were taken."
A thief steals up to $10,000 from a Palo Alto church's collection plates after Sunday Mass. pic.twitter.com/gUN1t1bTXe— Vic Lee (@vicleeabc7) September 14, 2016
The pastor told police a stranger approached him while he was chatting with parishioners and asked: '"Was this the last service?' And then the pastor told him it was the last service of the day," Estrada said.
Then, minutes later the money was missing from the collection baskets.
Folks at a nearby park were stunned both by the amount of money taken and the fact that someone would steal from a church. "Stealing from a church in my opinion, I'd be scared. I fear the lord myself," Palo Alto resident Nina Sanchez said.
"It's a sacred place where you just come to pray and someone just came with a different heart and intention. It's unbelievable," one woman said.