Ukrainian Church of St. Jehoshaphat destroyed for the second time, says church administrator – Morning call
The Ukrainian Church of St. Jehoshaphat in Bethlehem has twice been the subject of theft and vandalism in the past six weeks.
Both thefts took place during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which killed thousands of civilians and threatened the country’s future, and caused the congregation “grief, pain and anxiety,” said priest Pavel Makar.
In March, two copper lamps were stolen from the building and the banner “Pray for Ukraine” was confiscated.
[ Theft of light fixtures at Bethlehem Ukrainian Catholic church under investigation, police say ]
On Friday afternoon, the church trustee found even more damage.
Copper streams were disrupted on both sides of the building. Part of the building’s gutters were damaged, and copper sheets were torn from the church’s dome at the back of the building.
“Due to the fact that Ukraine is at war, this is a very, very painful incident for us,” Makar said. “It caused us a lot of grief, pain and worry.”
The church reported both incidents to the Bethlehem police, which is investigating. Police believe the thief is motivated not by hatred or bias but by profit, Makar said.
In the first quarter of 2022, the price of copper reached a record high, which feeds the black market of copper scrap. Thefts of copper wires and fixtures have recently been reported in Los Angeles; Seattle; St. Paul, Minnesota and others.
Bethlehem police could not be reached for further comment.
Any witnesses to the theft or local metallurgical workshops who have seen materials similar to copper plaques, gutters or sheets that could have been stolen can call Bethlehem police by calling 610-855-7187.