NEW YORK -- A burglary inside a Brooklyn Catholic church has left parishioners stunned.
CBS2's Leah Mishkin has more on the $2 million heist.
It was a Sunday like any other. Music kicked off Mass as churchgoers sang along. But if you looked closer at the altar, you may notice something missing.
"We all just thought that a sacred space would never be violated," said Father Frank Tumino, pastor of St. Augustine Catholic Church.
Tumino said the tabernacle at St. Augustine in Park Slope was stolen. The sacred vessel that was used to conduct the rites of Holy Communion was guarded inside a steel case.
"By the time I got into church, all I smelled was the cuttings of the metal. Obviously, they came with tools to be able to do that," Tumino said.
The pastor of the parish said he isn't sure when the burglary took place, only that it happened sometime between Thursday and Saturday. The NYPD said the rare tabernacle dating to the 1800s is 18-karat gold with jewels and was worth about $2 million.
To parishioners, it was a piece of history and invaluable.
"This is such a shock. It's such an act of evil," Sharon Dawson said.
One statue of an angel was destroyed and another was damaged. There are security cameras at the church, but Tumino said the DVR with the video was also taken.
"It had to be someone who knew something inside," parishioner David Flowers said.
"I know it's easy for people to say, yeah, it's an inside job, but the reality is these are also very public buildings. If the guy is here in the morning and people are praying, someone can hide. We don't know. We haven't been able to establish if someone hid and then came out or hid and then let someone in," Tumino said.
How long the person or people spent inside the church is also unclear.
"It seems they had been really well prepared," Tumino said. "It's a lot of destruction, so I'm really grateful no one got hurt."
Tumino said he is praying the tabernacle is returned.
"It's significant to us in that it's sacred. So, a sacred thing should not be cut up and sold. A sacred thing should not be melted down," he said.
The NYPD is investigating and asking anyone with information to call their CrimeStoppers hotline at 1800-577-TIPS.
Anyone with any information is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit a tip via their website or via DM on Twitter, @NYPDTips. All calls are kept confidential.
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