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Church must beef up security – Cyprus Mail

Church must beef up security – Cyprus Mail.

POLICE CHIEF Michalis Papageorgiou has called on Archbishop
Chrysostomos II to take immediate steps to protect church relics and
antique icons, given a recent spate of thefts of churches and
monasteries.
Police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos yesterday confirmed that
Papageorgiou sent the primate a letter on the first of this month,
asking the head of the Cyprus Church to take effective measures to
protect church cultural heritage and valuable relics and icons.
The aim of the letter is to encourage the church to take measures to
protect against the illegal trade in antiquities.
According to yesterday’s Phileleftheros, in the last two months, five
robberies of churches and monasteries resulted in the theft of
valuable icons and church items. Just this past week, ancient
byzantine icons were stolen from Ayios Georgios in Xylophagou, said
the paper.
Meanwhile, last Friday around €24,000 worth of religious icons were
stolen from a church in the Paphos area with the oldest one dating all
the way back to 1779.
According to police reports the robbery took place between 10am and
4pm. The thieves escaped with an icon of John the Baptist dating back
to 1779 and worth €10,000, one of Jesus Christ dating back to 1860
worth €7,000 and another one dating back to the same year of the
Virgin Mary, also worth €7,000.
In his letter to the archbishop, the police chief noted that almost
none of the holy places owned and operated by the church are protected
with modern security systems, making them vulnerable to theft,
particularly by those involved in the illicit trade in antiquities.
The situation is even more dangerous for out of the way, isolated
small churches which are rarely visited or maintained even by priests.
Papageorgiou called on the archbishop to instruct all churches and
monasteries to take a number of measures to protect themselves from
opportunists.
These include lighting up the perimeter of churches and monasteries,
sealing them with modern locks and installing alarm systems.
Also, the church should remove all valuable items such as ancient
relics or icons and put them in museums where they can be better
protected.
The police chief called for all holy places to be checked on a daily
basis by priests or others, to avoid situations where police discover
ten days after the incident that a church has been robbed.
Finally, the archbishop was advised to create an archive of all
religious icons and items of significant value to make it easier for
police to recognise and identify those items.

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