P600T worth of jewelry stolen from image at Chapel of Relics

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

THE Chapel of Holy Relics in Tabor Hills, Barangay San Jose, Cebu City lost P600,000 worth of jewelry after it was burglarized last Sunday night.

Senior Insp. Jose Gesto, head of the Talamban Police Station, said the incident was discovered at 8:45 p.m. following a Christmas party held by priests and seminarians in the premises.

Stolen were two gold necklaces, four pendants and three rings from the image of Sta. Rita.

Police will invite for questioning two former Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center inmates who live near the area and who were recently released.

Based on initial investigation, the burglary took place 20 minutes after the party ended. The chapel had not been closed.

A motorcycle-for-hire driver saw two men near the area around that time.

The lack of a security guard or a closed-circuit television (CCTV) may have pushed the burglars to be bold, Gesto said. “Kay kung naa lay CCTV, mailhan ra dayon nato sila (We’d know their identity if we had a CCTV),” he said.

Another angle

Police are not discounting the possibility that the burglary was an inside job.

During their ocular inspection, Gesto said they noticed the image of Sta. Rita still had other jewelry pieces left.

In a report over CCTN’s Sayri 47, Fr. Dennis Duene Gutierrez Ruiz said the seminarians were inside the TV room before the burglary. Their superior arrived and asked to hold a mass.

When they entered the chapel, the glass containing the image had been broken and some of the jewelry was missing.

Ruiz said last Sunday’s burglary was the first time they lost something after three attempts.

Because of what happened, he said they will tighten their security and will install CCTV cameras.

In an interview with Sun.Star Cebu last year, Ruiz said the chapel is the only one that houses holy relics in the county.

It has more than 600 relics, most of which Ruiz got in Rome, Italy.

Ruiz said the relics have the seal of authenticity from the Vatican. About 90 percent are first class, he said, meaning they are bits of bone, hair, blood, skin or other body part of a saint.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 31, 2013.

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