In the past few weeks, burglaries and thefts of Orthodox churches have taken place on the territory of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren.
In the last ten days alone, six of our churches and church buildings have been burglarized and looted. According to the reports submitted to the Diocese by parish priests, the break-ins took place at the following locations:
- Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Klokot: On March 6, 2021, on Memorial Saturday, unknown perpetrators broke into the church, damaging the front door, breaking the window, trying to scrape with the blunt tool gold leaves that cover the central icon (when they destroyed it) and stole about 200 euros.
- Church of the Holy Trinity in Partes: On March 6, 2021, in the early morning hours, the church was burglarized by an unknown person. During the break-in, a search was conducted and the cash register was smashed, which contained money from the daily income realized from the sale of candles on the occasion of Memorial Saturday. An unknown person took from the church a shroud from Christ’s tomb, an icon of St. John the Baptist, and money from the cash register in the amount of 15,000 dinars and 70 euros.
- In the village of Gornja Gusterica in the municipality of Gracanica, on the night between March 15 and 16, the church of Saint Kyriaki was burglarized and looted. Money from icons worth 5,000 dinars (45 euros) was stolen from the church, the front door was broken into and another material damage was caused, and the villagers with their priest noticed the burglary in the morning and informed the police, who made an investigation.
- In the municipality of Strpce, in the villages of Drajkovce and Donja Bitinja, on March 13, 2021, the competent priest reported a break and enter and theft in two churches in his parish. In the village of Drajkovce, in the church of the Holy Martyrs of Sebaste, unknown persons forcibly entered and stole a certain amount of money. In Donja Bitinja, the church and the church bell tower of the church of St. Demetrius were broken in, the front door was demolished, and 3,000 dinars were stolen from the church.
- In the municipality of Pec in the village of Vitomirica, on March 12, 2021, the priest reported that the parish home under construction next to the church of the Holy Apostle Luke had been burglarized. During the break and entry, construction material worth about 4,000 euros was stolen.
All cases were reported to the Kosovo police. The Diocese of Raska and Prizren once again expresses its deep concern over the frequent cases of burglary of our churches in Kosovo and Metohija. So many break-ins and thefts in a short time cause unrest among our clergy and people, especially in these holy days of Lent.
The Diocese appeals to the Kosovo police, but also to international organizations to make every effort to prevent attacks on religious buildings and to bring those responsible to justice. Frequent thefts and burglaries at our temples also show that it is necessary to take additional security measures.
Source: Serbian Orthodox Church
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