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Theft Of Church Silver Linked To Series Of Similar Burglaries

November 7, 1985

MORRIS PLAINS, N.J. (AP) _ A theft of silver chalices and communion plates from an Episcopal church here may be part of a two-year wave of church burglaries believed to have netted more than $150,000 worth of silver, authorities say.

Police said the burglars could be selling the articles to a religious supply house for resale.

Thirty-three churches have been burglarized since early 1984, according to the Episcopal diocese offices in Newark.

Thieves broke into St. Paul’s Episcopal Church here Sunday night and made off with two sets of communion silver and a portable set used for home-bound parishioners.

Parish administrator Rosemary Halstead said the thieves ″left all the silver-plated stuff. They knew what was good and expensive.″

Sgt. Thomas Kelly of Bernards Township, where churches were burglarized, said police in many towns are pooling information and checking on suspects arrested for church break-ins in the past.

He said the thieves may be fencing the silver to legitimate supply houses.

But Daniel Hanke, claims manager for the Church Insurance Co. of New York, which insures Episcopal churches in New Jersey, said the ring might be selling the articles to poorer churches, possibly in Latin America.

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