CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) _ Frank Zdanowski Jr. didn't like being known as the ``Church Burglar,'' police said. He preferred the ``Church Bandit.''

Either way, Zdanowski, 38, of St. Louis, faces charges for allegedly committing more than 15 church burglaries over the past few months. He faces 26 charges, 23 in the city and three in St. Louis County.

Police described Zdanowski as a career burglar with several prior felony convictions. He allegedly told detectives he targeted churches late at night to avoid confrontation.

``He didn't want to run into a pastor on the property,'' St. Louis County detective Ron Keilholz said.

Another potential reason: Zdanowski told detectives he is a Catholic.

Most of the items taken were cash, electronic gear and other items the suspect could easily trade for crack cocaine, police said.

Investigators said Zdanowski tried to use a credit card taken Jan. 14 from Bayless Baptist Church in south St. Louis County. A surveillance picture from a Schnucks grocery store led to his arrest on Monday.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, www.stltoday.com.