Cyprus: Church warning
08 August 2013 18:13
PAPHOS - Police are advising churches to bolster security measures after
a string of ecclesiastical thefts in Paphos this week.
Deputy police spokesperson Nicoletta Tyrimou confirmed yesterday that
the authorities were advising churches to take measures against thefts
after investigations were launched into six new break-ins.
“In each case the thieves swiped icons and any other items of value they
could find,” said Tyrimou.
Father Stylianos Iacovos reported to police on Tuesday that the Ayia
Anastasia Church in the Kilinia community had been burgled after
noticing the front entrance had been forced open.
Thieves took €800 from the collection box, two silver chalices, a gold
plated cross, a silver cross, and three small icons.
Police said the burglars most likely struck during the early hours and
used a crowbar to pry open the door.
On Monday, police received a report at around 5.00am that Ayia Eirini
church in the Timi community had been burgled. Thieves took an icon
worth €3,000 as well as two silver chalices and a number of candle
holders. Within the space of a few hours, the authorities were alerted
about burglaries at the churches Ayia Marina, Ayios Demetrianos, Ayia
Eirini, and Ayios Panaretos.
Tyrimou said the authorities were extremely concerned and were taking
measures to prevent them.
“We have held several meetings with representatives of the church to
discuss how security can be improved and we are also increasing police
patrols near small and remote churches which are most at risk.
“Other preventative measures are also being taken but we cannot discuss
them in detail at this point.”
The spokesperson added churches were generally targeted because they
lack sophisticated security systems.
Speaking to The Cyprus Daily, Paphos Bishop Georgios described the
recent surge in thefts against churches as “unacceptable”.
“We have taken on board the advice from the police and in some cases
CCTV systems and alarms have been installed in churches.”
The Bishop questioned why thieves would target remote chapels when there
is hardly anything of value for them to steal.
“Even though these isolated places of prayer contain few valuables we
are asking priests to do shifts so that there is someone awake and in
the church around the clock.” He added that the church had noticed a
distinct increase in thefts during the summer period.
“Cyprus is a tourist destination and it is very busy during the summer.
Because we receive many visitors during this time it makes it easy for
thieves to come in and look around before they decide to steal something.”
The phenomenon of church theft has been an ongoing issue islandwide and
has been on the rise for the last two years, with some of the larger
churches turning to elaborate security systems to protect their valuables.
Unsurprisingly, icons and artefacts made of gold and silver remain the
most popular targets for thieves.