A thief brazenly broke into a Brooklyn Catholic Church on Friday and stole a $2 million tabernacle from the altar. Police are looking for the culprit, who they say must have snuck in Friday and cut through a protective casing that surrounded the 18-karat tabernacle.
The diocese says the tabernacle is irreplaceable due to its 130-year history. It has been a centerpiece in the prominent St. Augustine church in Brooklyn for over a century.
Father Frank Tumino, the pastor of the church, says the crime has shaken the community due to its audacity. “This is devastating, as the Tabernacle is the central focus of our church outside of worship, holding the Body of Christ, the Eucharist, which is delivered to the sick and homebound,” Tumino told reporters.
“To know that a burglar entered the most sacred space of our beautiful Church and took great pains to cut into a security system is a heinous act of disrespect.”
Police are looking for the culprit, who they say must have broken into the church on Friday night when it was empty. There are no people of interest in the case currently, and some worry that the crime might have been completely random.
If so, it will be difficult to determine who has stolen the tabernacle. However, the thief also defaced some of the decorations within the church, removing the head of a golden angel statue during the process of stealing the gold and gems. The Holy Eucharist contained within the tabernacle was also discarded and “thrown all over the altar.”
A pastor discovered the scene of the crime Saturday. The church discovered that someone had cut through a metal protective casing to reach the tabernacle.
Church officials have described this as an extremely time-consuming and difficult process, meaning the thief went to great lengths to make off with the artifact. They also discovered the criminal had cut into a safe, but thankfully it had been empty.
Brooklyn police are actively searching for the culprit, but there are few leads in the case. The thief made off with a very visually striking tabernacle, so the authorities are hoping that it will be difficult for the thief to hide it.
The diocese characterized the crime as an act of “disrespect and hate, which desecrated the most Holy Eucharist and the altar at St. Augustine Catholic Church.” Anyone with information regarding the case should contact the New York Police Department’s NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).