Faced with a skyrocketing number of burglaries over the past few years, Greek Orthodox priests across the country are taking extra measures to protect church property against break-ins.
According to a report published in Sunday?s Kathimerini, more and more Orthodox places of worship are being safeguarded with anti-theft systems such as metal fences, locks and alarm systems, in an attempt to protect their contents.
Church raiders, the report said, do not stop at stealing money from collection boxes, but are targeting sacred items such as portable icons, holy vessels and even relics.
Kathimerini reported that priests are complaining that some burglars go as far as stealing church bells and candle holders, which are then sold to metal dealers.
Apparently, even lamps left on graves in cemeteries have not escaped the thieves? attention.
Police say that more than 500 churches have been targeted by thieves in the last year, but hundreds more break-ins, especially in small churches in and outside of Greece?s villages, are thought to go unreported.