Police says thief entered through door, not ceiling

Posted on December 16, 2012

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Whoever stole the jewelry adorning the image of the Nuestra Señora de Regla or the Virgin of the Rule had a key to the front door, said police.

Senior Insp. Christian Torres, chief of the Theft and Robbery Section of the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office, said evidence so far reinforced the initial theory that the robbery was an inside job.

“There were no signs of forcible entry. We found out that it’s impossible for them to have passed through the ceiling because there were no prints on the walls,” he said in Cebuano. “The culprits definitely hade a key to the church.”

Half a month after the Nov. 29 theft, the police are still taking sworn statements of eight persons, whose fingerprint samples were taken.

But no arrangements have been firmed up yet with the National Bureau of Investigation to let the church’s priests, security guards and workers undergo a lie-detector test.

Church officials have not yet submitted an inventory of the missing jewelry. The police report was based on a priest’s verbal accounting of the missing items.

“Naa man gyud siguro na silay list sa jewelry kay bisan gani kanang i-donate nga sinina sa Birhen ila man na ilista sa log book, how much more kadtong nihatag og jewelry, wala lang siguro nila pangita-a (They probably have a list of the jewelry because even the dresses donated for the image were listed down in a log book, how much more for the jewelry. Maybe they’re not looking for it),” Torres said.

The initial police report said 69 necklaces, 70 rings and 16 bracelets, with an estimated value of more than a million pesos, were taken by the thieves.

Torres said police are staying alert for a possible tip off that he explains usually surfaces over time.

“We believe that there are at least two people involved in the crime. That’s s why there’s a possibility that a leak will come out sooner or later,” he said.

Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza said she will meet with Senior Supt. Rey Lyndon Lawas, the city’s chief of police, to get an update.She said devotees of the desecrated image were worried about the slow pace of the investigation.

The theft took place a week after the city’s annual fiesta honoring the Virgin of the Rule.

Radaza said the theft is something personal to the family because her late mother-in-law, Sindulfa Radaza, was the “camarera” entrusted with changing the dress of the image and accepting donations of devotees. The practices is continued by her sister-in-law Ida Rago. /Norman V. Mendoza, Correspondent

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