Security tightened at Betis church after ivory theft

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Sunday, July 20, 2014


GUAGUA -- Security at the St. James the Apostle Parish has been tightened since the recent return of the two stolen ivory icons inside the church.

Local authorities ordered the full operation of the closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras within and around the church, as well as a night guard for added security.

This came after the antique ivory images of the Virgen de la Correa and her Child Jesus were recovered by the Caloocan City police and the Guagua police in separate operations and subsequently returned to the church.

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Local church authorities organized a nine-day novena and a thanksgiving mass for the return of the images.

Mayor Dante Torres led the formal re-installation of the said images in the right-side altar of church last Wednesday. The niche for the images has been reinforced with a fiber-glass casing and additional locks for security.

Torres earlier urged local church officials to be more vigilant and ask the help of the local authorities in securing the premises of the church.

It could be remembered that on July 1, the Northern Caloocan police led by Police Superintendent Bernard Tambaoan turned over to the local police Quintos, 29, a resident of Barangay San Jose in Macabebe town, after the suspect was found in possession of the stolen Sto. Niño image.

The suspect was nabbed while selling the image along Bonifacio Monument Circle (Monumento) in Caloocan City.

The image, ivory head and two sets of detached hands and feet were turned over to the Guagua police.

Guagua town police chief Inspector Angelito Estaban told reporters that they were able to track down the location of the other missing image after interrogating the suspect.

The image was recovered from a remote area in Barangay San Basilio in Sta. Rita, a town near Guagua. Police recovered the ivory head and a set of ivory hands.

The two images were stolen from their altar inside the Santiago Apostol Church last June 30. The church was declared a national cultural treasure in 2013.

The image of the Child Jesus was first stolen during the Betis district's feast day last December 2013 but was returned to the church after it was bought by a certain Tom Joven.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on July 21, 2014.

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