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4100Thieves strip copper from church dome in Cleveland

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  • Nina_Dimas_42
    Oct 6, 2005
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      Thieves strip copper from dome on church
      St. Theodosius sets loss at up to $20,000
      Thursday, October 06, 2005
      Gabriel Baird

      Plain Dealer Reporter

      Thieves ripped the copper covering off one of the domes atop Ohio's
      oldest Orthodox church overnight Tuesday and stole five copper
      downspouts.

      Father John Zdinak estimated that the damage to St. Theodosius
      Orthodox Cathedral on Starkweather Avenue in Tremont at as much as
      $20,000.

      Cleveland police suspect that the thieves were after the copper to
      sell as scrap. Scrap yards said Wednesday that the going rate for
      copper is at its highest in years -- about $1.25 per pound. Church
      officials said the copper stolen from the dome and downspouts may
      have fetched $100 as scrap.

      "I just can't imagine how anybody would do that," Zdinak said in an
      interview.

      The church, which appeared in scenes of the Oscar-winning film "The
      Deer Hunter," is topped with 13 onion-shaped copper domes -- one for
      Jesus and each of his 12 apostles. Time has turned these copper
      domes, which overlook the western Flats, green.

      At each of the four corners of the church, there are smaller half-
      domes. The copper on these four half-domes is brown because it's
      newer, having been replaced a few years ago to stop leaks.

      Each of the diamond-shaped copper panels was custom-made and bound
      together by hand, costing about $100,000, Zdinak said.

      The thieves chose the half-dome on the southeast side of the church,
      which is hard to see from the road, climbed up with a ladder and
      ripped off at least a dozen of the copper panels and the downspouts.

      "I feel like I've been violated," said Ted Lentz, the church
      caretaker, as he looked up at the damage Wednesday. "Who could steal
      from God?"

      Thieves stealing copper and other metals to sell for scrap is
      common. Detective Thomas Smith investigates many of these crimes. He
      regularly checks the records scrap yards are required to keep of who
      brings them scrap, and Smith routinely gives scrap dealers lists of
      stolen goods to watch out for. The copper from St. Theodosius is
      likely to be added to that list.

      Councilman Joe Cimperman went door-to-door Wednesday looking for
      clues to help solve the crime.

      The damage to the church dome makes it vulnerable to leaks.
      Rainwater could seep into the church, damaging plaster and the
      irreplaceable frescoes that adorn the walls. With rain in the
      forecast for tomorrow, church officials had a roofer look at the
      dome Wednesday and make a temporary repair.



      Plain Dealer reporters Rachel Dissell and Jim Nichols contributed to
      this report.

      To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:

      gbaird@..., 216-999-4141