Milwaukee church vandalized, valuable antiques stolen

CREATED Aug 28, 2013 - UPDATED: Aug 28, 2013

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MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Milwaukee police say two men broke into a church and stole antique candleholders worth as much as $80,000, and then sold them for scrap for $100.

Police said Saturday the suspects were arrested this week following Monday's burglary at St. Anthony Catholic Church.

"You’re talking about material things. They’re not the most important things, but what’s behind it is the faith of these people and they’re beautiful," explained Father Cliff Ermatinger.

”The church, as beautiful as it is, was built by hard-earned savings of recently-arrived German immigrants.”

Authorities say the suspects stole several antique gold and brass candleholders. Detectives found at least some of them in a south-side home, and the buyer led officers to one of the suspects.

Police say the 31-year-old suspect told investigators he and a 55-year-old man took the candleholders. The man says the two smashed the marble off the candleholders to make them fit into the garbage can they used to transport the antiques to a metal buyer.

"We don’t bear any hard feelings toward anyone in particular, but there’s no contradiction between forgiveness of a person and wanting justice to be served," Ermatinger said.

The 31-year-old was arrested Thursday. The 55-year-old was arrested Friday.