NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Queens church leaders said their faith is not shaken after a man allegedly broke in, making off with items intended to be tokens of faith.
The suspect was caught on surveillance video walking into Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Astoria around 2:20 p.m. Wednesday.
The suspect allegedly stole an offering box from a wooden pillar and jewelry from a display case that also holds an image of St. Demetrios, CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang reported.
Father Anastasios Pourakis said parishioners donate the jewelry as tokens of faith.
“There’s not a price you can put on that,” Pourakis said.
Father Pourakis said cameras were installed in the church years ago after a different robbery.
Even though the suspect didn’t know he was being watched, apparently he knew exactly when to strike, Jiang reported.
“People are very observant, I don’t want to use a street term, they probably cased the place when somebody normally takes a break,” Pourakis said. “I hate to think like that, but I think obviously they saw the open opportunity.”
The suspect took off after the robbery. Surveillance images showed he was wearing green from head to toe, including a green backpack.
Church officials said the jewelry was worth more than $1,000.
The crime has left many parishioners stunned.
“It’s unbelievable, but they do it. I don’t know what kind of people are they. They have no soul,” one parishioner said. “I feel like crying now. To steal things from the church?”
There are no plans to put a new collection box in a different place or lock it up because the church believes most people do the right thing.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 800-577-TIPS or to submit a tip online at NYPDCrimeStoppers.com. All calls are kept confidential.
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