Police: $2M tabernacle stolen from Park Slope church
Police are investigating after a tabernacle worth $2 million was stolen last week from a church in Park Slope.
Most of the parishioners at St. Augustine's Roman Catholic Church learned about the robbery as they arrived for Sunday Mass.
"Sadly, we've come to expect that anything can happen. I think we all just never thought that a sacred space would be violated like that," said Father Frank Tumino, pastor of St. Agustine and St. Francis Xavier Parish.
Investigators say sometime between Thursday and Saturday, while the church was closed, the steel protective casing behind the altar was cut through. The tabernacle, which is used to hold Sacrament for Communion had been stolen.
"You could smell the metal shavings because, obviously, they came with tools to be able to do. I think it had to be pretty organized and just from the heavy weight of it, but it definitely seemed like it was more than one person," Tumino said.
Dating back to the 1800s and made from pure 18-karat gold and jewels, estimates say the tabernacle is worth $2 million. But members of the church say its value goes beyond that.
"Sacred things should not be cut up and sold. Sacred things should not be melted down. Sacred things should be really protected, and so that would be my greatest hope. That as it is sacred and it has been used for over 100 years for sacred things, that it would return to sacred use," Tumino said.
A statue of an angel that was next to the tabernacle was also damaged. Its head was taken off and the digital video recording system used to keep the security camera recordings was also gone.
Tumino said he understands why some people would assume this had to be an inside job -- done by someone who works for or is involved with the church. However, he said there's so many people who come in and out and so many ways they could have entered the building, that he'd rather let the police investigation play out and not jump to any conclusions.