A man has been charged by the Moonee Valley Crime Investigation Unit detectives following a series of church burglaries across Melbourne this month.
It is alleged the burglaries took place at places of worship in Altona North, St Albans, Flemington, Templestowe, Mont Albert, Balwyn North, Keilor East, Box Hill and South Melbourne between 4-18 April, Victoria Police said in a statement.
However, ten Greek Orthodox churches across Melbourne alone were targeted in a string of robberies on Easter Sunday, with a man caught on CCTV prying open one door with a pitchfork.
Thieves smashed into the churches of Panagia Sumela in East Keilor, Holy Trinity in Footscray, St Nicholas in Yarraville, Agia Paraskevi in St Albans, Agios Dimitrios in Moonee Ponds, The Presentation Of Our Lady in North Balwyn, St Charalambos in Templestowe, The Dormition of our Lady in Altona, St Anargyroi in Oakleigh, as well as the Holy Archdiocese bookstore at the Holy Monastery of Axion Esti in Northcote.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia said in an announcement that “We are in the unpleasant position to have to announce that ten Greek Orthodox churches in Victoria have been targeted by burglars in recent days”.
“These sad incidents took place during hours the churches were closed, which is why the safety of the clergy and neighbouring parishes was not endangered.”
Police executed warrants in Caroline Springs and Maidstone yesterday and today, seizing money and property alleged to have been stolen during the burglaries.
A 45-year-old Caroline Springs man was arrested today in Maidstone and has been charged with 11 counts of burglary, 12 counts of theft, robbery and criminal damage.
It is expected further charges will be laid.
The man has been remanded in custody to appear in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 23 April.