Virgin Mary statue loses gold jewelry in church burglary
CEBU CITY—A statue of Virgin Mary popular in Lapu-Lapu City lost several pieces of jewelry in a burglary that also led to the loss of cash donations being kept at the religious icon’s shrine.
The statue accumulated the pieces of jewelry through time and from donations made by devotees who had vowed to return the favor if their prayers are answered by the religious image.
Police said the burglars struck at Nuestra Senora de Regla Parish National Shrine, home of the Virgin of Rule, in Lapu-Lapu City at dawn on Wednesday.
They took at least 69 gold necklaces, 16 gold bracelets and 70 gold rings. Some of the pieces of jewelry were detached from the statue and the theft was discovered when church workers found the statue’s dress in disarray, according to police.
Cash being kept at the shrine’s donation box was also stolen.
Chief Insp. Christian Torres, head of the Lapu-Lapu City police’s theft and robbery section, said there was no sign of forced entry into the shrine, which had celebrated its feast on Nov. 20-21.
The heist could have been an inside job, he said. People who have access to the shrine are being investigated and their fingerprints taken, said Torres.