Dallas Pastor Accused of Robbing Parishioner's Home of Luxury Items on Christmas Eve

PHOTO Dallas pastor Sandy McGriffPlayABC News
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A Dallas pastor who is accused of climbing through a window to steal fur coats and purses from her parishioner's home on Christmas Eve claims that she was just trying to protect the property from burglars.

Sandy McGriff, 52, was apprehended by Dallas police in the afternoon on Christmas Eve when she was spotted stuffing items belonging to Serita Agnew, a parishioner at the The Church of the Living God where McGriff is the pastor.

McGriff, who did not immediately respond to messages left by ABCNews.com, told ABC News' Dallas affiliate WFAA that she was checking on Agnew's house when she caught two men breaking in.

Asked why she didn't just call the police rather than climbing through the window, McGriff told WFAA, "My mistake, I should have."

In another interview with The Dallas Morning News, McGriff, surrounded by her own collection of fur coats, told the reporter that she doesn't "stand in need of anything."

Adding that she had a carload of groceries when she was arrested, McGriff told the paper, "I don't know of a burglar that's going to go shopping for groceries and then go commit a burglary."

"I thought I was helping," McGriff said.

But police tell a different story, and say that McGriff was not only caught with $12,000 worth of Agnew's possessions but gave a different name at the time of her arrest, which she then tried to evade.

McGriff gave cops the name "Kathy Robinson," one of several alias she has been known to use, according to Dallas Police Public Information Officer Kevin Janse. According to public records, McGriff has an extensive criminal record that include theft and a prostitution conviction from the 1970s,

"She was caught by patrol officers breaking into a residence and a neighbor had called and said that there was a suspicious vehicle in Agnew's driveway," said Janse. "When officers pulled up [McGriff] was walking out the back door with property in her hands."

"McGriff said the homeowner, who was a friend of hers, allowed her to go inside to get the property, but when officers contacted the homeowner she said she had not permitted anyone to enter her home," he said.

Reached by telephone Agnew declined to discuss the incident because of a pending deal with a television show.

Agnew told WFAA that she is shocked her pastor would be involved in something like this.

"She seems to have this connection with God. She seems to be a woman of God," Agnew said. "I made a decision not to let it shake my faith."

Janse said that McGriff was handcuffed and put in the back of a patrol car while officers finished filling out paperwork, but managed to slip out of the restraints.

"Officers were able to get her back in handcuffs and leg restraints," said Janse.

McGriff said that the force in which the police did so was "unnecessary force," according to the Dallas News, and said, "You just don't treat a woman like that."

Janse said that McGriff's allegations about the police force are unfounded.

"The officers had to use the force necessary to get her back in custody and I would imagine that anyone being arrested would think that the force was too much," said Janse.

McGriff is charged with burglary and resisting arrest and transport, according to Janse, charges that could put her in prison for as many as 20 years if convicted.

After spending a night in the Dallas County jail, McGriff was released on a $26,000 bond and reportedly made it back to her church in time to lead Christmas services.