Police recover $135K worth of stolen church items

RELIEF: Father Jeff O'Haire is the priest of the Anglican Church was the target of a robbery where several irreplaceable historic religious items and relics were stolen. 
Picture: JULIE HOUGH

RELIEF: Father Jeff O'Haire is the priest of the Anglican Church was the target of a robbery where several irreplaceable historic religious items and relics were stolen. Picture: JULIE HOUGH

ANCIENT religious artifacts stolen from The Christ Church at Daylesford, have been found dumped on the side of Ajax Road, north-west of the town.

Police on Sunday recovered all 35 items stolen in May and believed to be valued at $130,000, after receiving a tip-off from a member of the public who had been out walking. 

Daylesford police Leading Senior Constable Ian Wallace said some of the clerical pieces had suffered water damage. 

"We recovered everything. We had Jeff O'Hare (Anglican priest and the rector of Daylesford) with us and he said everything stolen was recovered," Leading Senior Constable Wallace said. 

He said the items had not been intentionally damaged, but a large book and some embroidery had been exposed to the weather conditions. 

"Some of the items date back to the 17th century, so we're very lucky to recover them," he said. 

RELIEF: Parish priest Jeff O'Haire at the Daylesford church.
Picture: JULIE HOUGH

RELIEF: Parish priest Jeff O'Haire at the Daylesford church. Picture: JULIE HOUGH

Leading Senior Constable Wallace was unsure how long the items had been dumped on the side of the road, but said they would be forensically examined before being returned to the church. 

He urged anyone who saw people acting suspiciously near Ajax Road on Sunday to call Daylesford Police.

Anglican Bishop of Bendigo Andrew Curnow said he was absolutely delighted the items were recovered.

"It's the best news I've heard in the last few weeks," he said. 

"I think we thought we might possibly never see them again.

"To hear the news is just amazing." 

"There was a lot of media released (when the items were stolen), so I suppose it was hard to get rid of the stuff if you’re trying to sell it," he said. 

Moorabool Criminal Investigation Unit was handling the investigation into the stolen goods. 

Detective Senior Constable Lee Tabbitt said they were "none the wiser" on the suspects, but said investigations were ongoing. 

"We don’t know what caused the people to dump it there," Detective Senior Constable said.

Detectives are calling for anyone with information about the burglary or who may have seen any suspicious activity near the church to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au

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