August 16, 2011

Greek Priests Make Effort To Protect Churches From Thieves

August 15, 2011

Hundreds of churches have been burgled this year and faced with a rapid rise in the number of break-ins over the past few years, Greek Orthodox priests across the country are taking extra measures to protect church property.

Sunday’s Kathimerini has learned that an increasing number of Orthodox places of worship are being safeguarded with anti-theft systems such as metal fences, locks and alarm systems, in an attempt to protect their contents from burglars.

Church raiders, sources said, often do not stop at stealing money from collection boxes, but are targeting sacred items such as portable icons, holy vessels and even relics.

Sources told Kathimerini that priests are complaining that some burglars go as far as stealing church bells and candle holders, which are then sold to scrap metal dealers for small amounts of cash. Sunday’s Kathimerini was told that even lamps left on graves in cemeteries have not escaped the thieves’ attention.

Police say that more than 500 churches have been targeted by thieves in the last year, but hundreds more break-ins, especially in small churches in and outside of Greece’s villages, are thought to have gone unreported.