A case of housebreaking and theft has been opened with the Steenberg police after a local church in Retreat, Cape Town, was broken into during load shedding over the weekend, and valuable items worth an approximate R12,000 stolen.
St Mary’s Church in Retreat was broken into and burgled between Saturday evening and 05.50am on Sunday morning, according to Western Cape police.
Father Cecil Dowling told News24 on Tuesday that the first sign that something was amiss was when he entered the church during load shedding between 20.00pm and 22.30pm on Saturday evening.
“When I arrived at the church, I noticed a candlelight burning in church and also realised that the church door was open,” Dowling told News24 on Tuesday. “I blew out the candle and closed the church door without noticing anything.”
On Sunday morning, as he was preparing for the Sunday service, Dowling said that he noticed a broken window, and that’s when he realised that four chalices and two brass bells were missing.
He said that was when he remembered the candle burning the previous night.
Together with other members of the church, Dowling alerted the local scrap yards, as well as a nearby Cash Crusaders, about the theft and requested they be on the lookout for anyone selling the missing items.
“We are very disappointed that the church is a place where people should feel safe, but it is being targeted. People no longer have any respect for the church,” Dowling said.
It was not immediately clear if the items were taken when the church was broken into during the load shedding, or if the crooks returned later that evening.
According to police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana, “entry to the church was gained through a window”.
“The suspects are yet to arrested,” said Rwexana. “Anyone with any information about this incident can contact Steenberg SAPS on 021 702 9000 or Crime Stop on 08600 10111.”