Four held for heist from Milan synagogue

Tel Aviv residents caught stealing over US $1 million in Judaica from Italian synagogue.

By JTA
February 7, 2011 03:57
1 minute read.
STOLEN TORAH scrolls that were recovered by police

stolen torahs 311. (photo credit: Israel Police)

Four Tel Aviv residents in their 20s were arrested by police on Sunday on suspicion of stealing Judaica from a Milan synagogue worth over a million dollars.

Detectives from the Yarkon Police station, who seized the stolen items during raids, said the suspects were trying to sell them here.

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All the stolen objects – silver Torah crowns, rimmonim and other silver and gold objects worth more than $700,000 – were recovered.

Police said the four suspects – two thieves and two who received the goods in Israel – belonged to a gang that had carried out similar thefts in other European synagogues.

The theft was discovered on Friday morning when Rabbi David Schunnach opened the ark that houses the Torah scrolls to prepare for Shabbat.

According to Italian reports, the synagogue’s security camera showed two thieves taking the items from the ark earlier in the week.

They apparently had gained access to the synagogue by posing as worshipers.



Schunnach alerted Judaica dealers in Israel and elsewhere. According to Israeli reports, one dealer contacted authorities after recognizing the items when he was shown them for appraisal.

“In the next few days we will know the details of what took place,” Milan Jewish community President Roberto Jarach said. “I want to underscore the fundamental importance of the immediate action taken by Rabbi Schunnach to alert his network of contacts in the world of Judaica collectors, the efficiency of the Carabinieri and, through Interpol, the effective action of the Israel forces of order.”

Italy’s Carabinieri military police has a special section devoted to art theft.


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