BUFFALO, NY - A Buffalo church community is asking the public for help after someone broke into the church over the weekend.
"It was on Saturday morning that I was walking the dog and I noticed this light on this pole that was smashed," said Father Volodymer Zablotskyy.
It took another look for Father Zablotskyy to realize burglars used a ladder to creep up and tear cooper from the roof of the sides of the Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church. Some parts were stripped away completely.
"The way they did the job, how clean they took it off it almost looks like a professional job. Tthey knew exactly what they were doing," said Zablotskyy.
But they may not have known what they were doing when they broke into the church through a basement window and took a book sitting near the altar. It's the parish's gospel book. It's read from during Mass and used in confession. It's something that holds a strong sentimental and spiritual value to the people who worship here.
"I believe that gospel book was here at least from the time this structure was built," said Zablotskyy. "Our predecessors, our founders read from the words from the gospel of that book.">
Father Zablotskyy thinks the burglars took the book because it was one of the only things they could fit out that small basement window. This parish priest took over the church in August with a goal to bring more people in and expand their outreach. But his mission now is finding that book, something that has been part of this church since it was built in 1933.
"It's hard to even put a value on that especially one that was used in prayer here for many years," said Zablotskyy.
Zablotskyy says they do have insurance and they have filed claims. He says it appears there was asphalt under the parts of the roof where the copper was stolen. He's just worried about making it through the winter without any leaks.
The church is offering a $500 reward for anyone who can lead them to the gospel book that was taken.
If you have any information, call the Buffalo Police Confidential Tipline at 716-847-2255.