NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The hunt is on for a bold thief who stole from a house of worship in the middle of a prayer service.

The suspect was caught on surveillance video walking out of Young Israel Of Queens Valley synagogue in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, with four ceremonial pieces of silver from Torah dressings.

The suspect was described as a white man wearing a white T-shirt, gray pants and a black yarmulke.

“Either he’s desperate or he’s a lowlife,” Rabbi Peretz Steinberg told CBS 2’s John Slattery. “I think we were violated, that’s what it looks like. A person comes in and he looks like he’s taking a yarmulke and he’s taking a prayer book and then all of a sudden he takes away the things,” the rabbi said.

The theft happened last Thursday evening during a prayer service. Members of the synagogue said the man went into a basement sanctuary where there was an unlocked ark.

“Just when everybody is walking in here to the main sanctuary, he immediately goes downstairs,” synagogue executive director George Srolovitz told Slattery.

Srolovitz said the man’s identity remains unknown.

“I’ve sent out the video and pictures to 300 of our members, nobody recognizes him,” Srolovitz told Slattery.

Two small silver crowns that were atop the two Torahs, as well as a silver pointer and a silver breastplate remain missing. The synagogue estimated the silver to be worth more than $3,000.

Another synagogue in Kew Gardens Hills reported a similar theft the weekend prior to this latest incident. In that
incident, two silver cups and a platter were taken from the podium from which the Torah is read. It’s not know if there is a connection.

Do you recognize the man accused of swiping the ceremonial and valuable silver? Share your comments below.

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