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Police Search For Man Who Stole Scepter, Other Items From Brooklyn Church

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Police Sunday evening were searching for a man they said stole religious artifacts and cash from a Brooklyn cathedral.

CBS2's Dave Carlin went to Sunday mass to find that some, but not all of the congregants' prayers were answered.

Police late Sunday were looking for a nicely-dressed man whose demeanor was cool as he walked out of a Sheepshead Bay church with a 4-foot-tall gold scepter.

It was only somewhat tucked into his knee-length topcoat.

"It was really a great shock for everyone," said Marina Andreyev of Sheepshead Bay.

Churchgoers were angry and heartbroken to see the surveillance video from around 2 p.m. Thursday. The suspect was seen inside a nearly empty Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

The precious artifact, which is more than 100 years old, is large enough to be unwieldy.

But that did not stop the theft, and it was not the only thing taken. Police said the suspect also stole an icon and $30 in cash.

The suspect pocketed the money from this basket.

"I don't know why anyone would go into a church or any religious organization – anybody that believes in God -- and do something like that that," said Amir Yuzari of Sheepshead Bay.

It is believed the suspect went from the cathedral to a nearby apartment building, where it appeared he wanted to store the loot on the roof -- at least temporarily.

The items were found at the top of a stairwell by the building's superintendent, who hand delivered them to the church just in time for Sunday mass.

The super said he did not know or recognize the suspect.

On Sunday, the scepter was back where it belonged, along with a crocheted item that was the other stolen artifact.

"Miraculously, they appeared," Andreyev said.

"And the prayer was heard," said the Rev. Alexander Belya, the rector of the cathedral.

Church leaders said the sharp-dressed thief made a mistake that they will forgive.

"If he repents and if he comes to me, of course I will talk with him and I will bless him," Belya said.

But first, the man needs to come forward or be caught.

Church leaders said while they never had the scepter appraised, its value is priceless.

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