A Catholic church in Santa Monica was the target of a brazen burglary as thieves made away with more than $100,000 in audio and video equipment used for livestreaming services.
Officials with St. Monica Catholic church informed their parishioners of the theft, which happened Thursday night, in a post on Facebook.
“Our church suffered a burglary and much of our camera and audio equipment was stolen, along with our candle boxes,” the post says. “They attempted to breach the tabernacle and it was damaged, but it held strong.”
Images showed the bronze box, which holds the Eucharist and is traditionally considered sacred, damaged by what appears to have been a hammer or a crowbar.
Church officials were not immediately available for comment Monday.
Lt. Rudy Flores of the Santa Monica Police Department said there is evidence to indicate the thief or thieves may have hidden in the building during church services before making their move.
“That is what the church believes may have happened based on the fact that there’s no signs of forced entry, so more than likely the individual or individuals were probably inside prior,” Flores said.
Surveillance video also captured a man inside the church Thursday night, and a witness saw a man coming out of the church with a flashlight, Flores said.
The church has been broadcasting livestreams of Sunday Masses, as well as holiday Masses, weddings and funerals, throughout the pandemic, according to its website.
The audio and video equipment was the “very thing that has kept us alive all during the pandemic,” the church’s pastor, Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson, said in a video message.
“Our tabernacle is secure, our sacred vessels are secure, so that’s good news,” Torgerson said. “And no one was injured or hurt, so we’re really grateful to God for that.”
Flores said church burglaries are rare.
“It’s definitely unusual and very unfortunate,” he said.