Police seek help in finding stolen Russian Orthodox religious items

Courtesy LAPD

One of the stolen items from Holy Transfiguration Russian Orthodox Church in Hollywood.

Members of a Russian Orthodox church in Hollywood were praying today for the recovery of dozens of religious objects that were stolen earlier this month.

The loss of the artifacts has shaken the congregation of Holy Transfiguration Russian Orthodox Church in Hollywood as Christmas celebrations approach — celebrated in Orthodox liturgy on Jan. 7.

"We had to borrow liturgical items from other churches in order to conduct Christmas services," Father Alexander Lebedeff, the church's rector, said. "We needed three chalices, and we only had one."

Det. Gus Villanueva with LAPD Media Relations said a total of 37 objects were stolen. 

"Basically on the 22nd of this month is when the burglary occured. Apparently the suspect gained access to altar room and... stole numberous religious objects," he said.

Those objects included gold communion chalices and ornate crosses.

Parishioners discovered the theft and desecration of the church's altar as they arrived on Dec. 23, Lebedeff said. No new leads in the case have materialized, police said today.

The church has received an outpouring of support from Orthodox churches across the United States, and from Russia, Lebedeff said.

"The importance of these items in religious services is significant. These are holy items, sanctified by their use," he said. "We have offered special prayers asking the mother of God to help."

The parish, at 5432 Fernwood Ave., has been in the community for more than 70 years.

Villanueva urged anyone with information about the stolen objects  to contact detectives at the LAPD's Hollywood station at (213) 972-2931. Anonymous callers may contact Crimestoppers at (800) 222-8477.

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