Stolen Church Relics Returned One Year Later

Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England), May 10, 2015 | Go to article overview

Stolen Church Relics Returned One Year Later


Byline: MIKE LOCKLEY Staff Reporter mike.lockley@trinitymirror.com

STOLEN religious artefacts - destined for the American black market - have been returned to the church where they were ripped out.

And yesterday, pensioner Mary Szuster, volunteer at St Cuthbert's Church in the picturesque Herefordshire parish of Holme Lacy, said: "You would not believe how chuffed I was when police gave me the news! I thought we'd never see them again."

The two misericords - ornately carved wooden seats - were snatched a year ago. The rare 16th century items are prized by American collectors and fetch around PS500.

They were recovered as part of Operation Icarus, a nationwide police initiative targeting thieves who ransack places of worship.

To date, Icarus - spearheaded by Herefordshire detectives - has recovered stonework, statues, paintings, stained glass and bibles worth PS250,000.

Mary knows exactly how the culprit who stole from her beloved church should be punished. "Prison is no good," said the 68-year-old. "Make the thief do a bit of hard labour in my church."

It's the third time St Cuthbert's, which dates back to the 13th century, has suffered raids.

Thieves removed lead from the roof and cash has even been swiped from collection boxes.

"I do despair," Mary tutted. "The lead had been pulled up and left - they intended to return later.

"They never did, but what they did meant rain poured through the roof."

"The problem is, how do you make a church secure? …

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