Copper gutters stolen from Hoboken church

March 20, 2012 7:45:49 PM PDT
A priest walked outside his church in Hoboken only to discover someone stripped the building of its copper gutters.

The high price of copper sparked the thief to not only hit one building but two others as well on church property.

The copper gutters on the outside of Our Lady of Grace are original and date back to the 1870s.

Vandals tore two of them off Monday night and now the parish priest is worried they'll come back for more.

Our Lady of Grace Church in Hoboken was the largest Catholic Church in New Jersey when it was built and it remains one of the oldest in the country.

Monday night, someone tore off the copper gutters, stealing a little piece of Hoboken's history.

"It does damage and destruction to a historic site, these buildings are 19th century," said Father Alex Santora, Our Lady of Grace Church.

Father Alex Santora was sleeping in the rectory at 3:30 a.m. when the sound of crashing metal woke him.

He yelled out the window and rushed outside, but didn't see anyone.

Tuesday morning he discovered the missing gutters.

The valuable copper probably went for $60 or $70 at the scrap metal yard, but it will cost the church closer to $1,000 to replace it.

"This just takes away from things we could do to help people and we have to spend the money on buildings," Father Santora said.

The thief appears to have also tried to steal a copper bowl, which is part of a memorial fountain dedicated to 9/11 victims.

Luckily the bowl was bolted down.

Father Santora hopes that the vandal won't return for more gutters, but he has no plans to lock down the church.

"I don't want it to become a fortress where people don't feel welcome," Father Santora said.

Father Santora also pointed out that the thief who did this clearly needed money.

If he or she had just come inside the church, there are many ways to get help legally.

Hoboken police are investigating the theft but so far have made no arrests.

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