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Police track stolen metal from local churches

COVINGTON, Ky. (Deb Dixon) -- It happened twice in six weeks at the Sacred Heart Church in Bellevue.

Two brass candlesticks went missing right from the altar.  Several historic churches in northern Kentucky are reporting these brazen thefts of brass.  We already told you about the theft of 100-year-old candlesticks from a church in Bellevue.  This Neighborhood Crime Alert is about a similar theft and what police found at a recycling center.

It happened twice in six weeks at the Sacred Heart Church in Bellevue.  Two brass candlesticks stolen off the altar the first time and three the second.  German immigrant parishioners bought them more than 100 years ago.

A thief hit Saint Henry Church in Elsmere three times in two weeks.  The rip-off also includes 100-year-old brass candlesticks.  One of the thefts happened after police officers left the funeral mass for an officer's father.

Detective Dennis McCarthy of the Elsmere Police Department said, "We had minimum 30 policeman in the church for mass and then we left the church and between us leaving the church and an hour, hour and a half later, the candelabras were taken."

Elsmere police asked recyclers to contact them if church-like brass turns up.  Express Recycling in Florence did.  One man came in with pounds of bronze and brass.

McCarthy said, "Look at the detail on that.  It's beautiful, it's probably two feet in diameter.  It's just not scrap, these are plates that I think you would make a base stand to build a candelabra in my opinion."

But none of the churches that reported thefts identified the scrap as stolen proper.  So the man who sold more than 300 pounds of metal pieces in three visits can't be a theft suspect.

"If I'd have found one item that had come out of churches he probably would have already been charged," McCarthy said.

The tabernacle at the alter of Saint Henry was bolted down when the candle holders were stolen.  But the historic 100-year- old brass candelabras have been replaced with something less valuable and not sentimental.

It's about more than metal of course, it's about church history that can't be replaced.  The thief took something else: the doors at St. Henry used to stay open so parishioners could pray anytime.  Now the doors stay locked.

Blessed Sacrament in Fort Mitchell and Saint Agnes in Fort Wright also reported thefts.  64 pounds of brass and bronze is worth about 117 dollars.

If you any information about these thefts, contact your local police department or Crime Stoppers at 352-3040.




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