Guardia Civil break up gang stealing valuable church antiques

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Some of the recovered church antiques.

FOLLOWING an investigation which started in January 2016, the Guardia Civil has broken a gang which was involved in the theft, alteration and sale of valuable church antiques and has arrested four people.

The first breakthrough in the investigation came when officers discovered a large wood carving Dolorosa Madonna (Mother of Sorrows) in Cantabria and after analysing the statue they were convinced that despite some recent subtle changes, it was an 18th century piece which had been stolen in 2015 from the parish of San Martin de Tours Obispo, Quintanilla in the town of Monte Rioja.

The investigation led officers to the provinces of Alicante, where they arrested one person and Zaragoza, where they arrested a further three as well as searching two houses which revealed a number of church antiques which had been reported as being stolen.

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In all, nearly 200 pieces were recovered in this operation which is considered to have been one of the most important investigations into the left of church artefacts for some considerable time, especially as the thieves had damaged some of the pieces in order to try to disguise their origin.

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