Members from a Russian Orthodox church in Hollywood are praying that the suspect who stole dozens of religious artifacts from their church altar, including the communion chalice, will return the sacred items before they celebrate traditional Christmas services on Jan. 7.
Detectives with the LAPD's Hollywood station are asking for the public's help in providing any information that will lead to the arrest of the suspect who burglarized the church at 5432 Fernwood Ave. on Dec. 22.
"An unknown individual entered the Holy Transfiguration Russian Orthodox Church, gained access to the altar room and stole numerous religious artifacts," police said in a statement. A total of 37 items were taken, police said. Photographs of the missing items include ornate crosses and chalices for communion.
"The community is very upset," said a member of the church, who gave her name only as Lebedeff.
"We're praying for the man who did it. We're praying for this man, that he will feel guilt and bring them back."
The Russian Orthodox community follows the Julian calendar, which means Christmas is celebrated Jan. 7.
Holy Transfiguration has been in the community for more than 70 years, Lebedeff said.
"We really never had any kind of theft," Lebedeff said. "It was a complete shock to us, to know that someone had come onto an altar, where no one should be walking. It's intimidating. It's like someone coming into your home."
Lebedeff said the congregation came to church Dec. 23 and noticed that the altar appeared desecrated.
"This person has no conscience," Lebedeff said. "We're just hoping he realizes that, for his soul's sake, he has hurt so many people."
Detectives with the LAPD's Hollywood station, are requesting that anyone with information related to this incident contact them at 213-972-2931. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477.