Police have arrested two men in connection to the burglary of gold jewellery offerings at the Greek Orthodox Church of Panagia Kamariani Red Hill in July.
A 34-year-old Coldstream man and a 29-year-old Warburton man were charged with burglary and theft on Thursday by detectives from the Rosebud Crime Investigation Unit, but no more details were released by police when Neos Kosmos inquired.
Reverend Father Eleftherios Tatsis of the Mornington Peninsula church told Neos Kosmos the men arrested were not of Greek decent and were found through pawn brokers after the duo attempted to sell the jewellery.
Father Tatsis says some of the jewellery can be recovered but police fear much of the jewellery has been melted and sold.
The gold jewellery housed in the church’s icon of the Virgin Mary was worth upwards of $100,000.
Father Tatsis said at the time of the burglary that offenders took less than six minutes to break the icon’s glass, steal the jewellery and flee. The burglary also happened in the daytime, while Father Tatsis was attending to another matter.
“I went inside the church to put out some candles. I returned to my office, just to realise I had forgotten my keys inside the church,” he told Neos Kosmos in July.
The offender, as the police believed at the time, according to father Tatsis, probably at that point broke the glass, and took the jewellery in his pockets.
“As I went back to church, I kissed the Icon and saw the glass broken and jewellery missing.”
Parishioners had been leaving the jewellery as offerings to the icon for protection and since 1987.
“30 years here, with the doors wide open, day and night, nothing like this has ever occurred.”
Father Tatsis was grateful that the miraculous icon of Panagia Kamariani wasn’t stolen.
The news of the brazen attack angered and dismayed the Greek community of Melbourne in late July.
The two men arrested over the theft will appear in Frankston Magistrates’ Court at a later date.