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$1,000 Reward Offered After Artifacts Stolen From Yonkers Church

YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A reward is being offered for the return of artifacts stolen from a century-old church in Yonkers.

As CBS 2's Lou Young reported, above an altar in the 100-year-old Monastery Church of the Sacred Heart the chains dangle like a reproach, reminding everyone of what was stolen.

"It's really hard to miss. The second you walk in it's the first thing you see. It's a cross like my size. It's a 6-foot solid gold cross!" said parishioner Michael Ray.

The cross is actually gold-plated, but still valuable and now missing all the same, Young reported.

It hung there for as long as anyone can remember -- visible in countless pictures and videos of Masses, weddings and holiday services.

The cross was taken in a brazen heist overnight Monday night into Tuesday morning.

"I live right on Convent. (Young: Did you hear anything? See anything? No, I didn't. I was home but I didn't hear anything or see anything, " said neighbor Debbie Longeuin.

The thieves went up a side staircase and in through a door that leads into a sort of mud room, offering them privacy. They were able to work undetected -- breaking two stained glass windows to gain entrance to the sanctuary, Young reported.

"Probably something planned ahead of time," parishioner Abraham Santiago said.

And the police agree. Once inside, the thieves stood on the altar to take down the heavy cross, took six gold-plated chalices from the sacristy and a gold-plated container for a religious relic, Young reported.

"These individuals are going to have to dispose of them in some fashion and we're hopeful someone will recognize them and call us immediately," said Yonkers Police Commissioner Charles Gardner.

There is a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible. Police would like to find the items before they're stripped and melted down, Young reported.

Police are looking for surveillance videos in the neighborhood and are asking scrap metal dealers to be on alert for the stolen items.

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