More Thefts in France

The French Culture Ministry has promised tighter security after another serious theft, this one from the Perpignan Cathedral (pictured here). The thieves took twenty objects, some dating to the 17th Century. Here is the AP wire story:

Thieves stole more than 20 religious objects dating back to the 17th century from a cathedral in the southwestern French city of Perpignan, the Culture Ministry said.

Culture Minister Christine Albanel was visiting the Saint Jean the Baptist cathedral in Perpignan, as well as meeting police and regional cultural officials, on Thursday to express her outrage at the theft, the ministry said.

More than 20 pieces dating from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, including plates and chalices for Communion, were taken overnight Tuesday, the ministry said.

Stephane Brunelle, a spokesman for Roman Catholic authorities in Perpignan, said the thieves took the most valuable items. Though beer cans were strewn on the floor, investigators suspect that may have been an attempt to confuse police and make the crime look like vandalism rather than a well-organized plot, he said.

Albanel, during her visit to the cathedral, said she would push for tougher sentencing for those who burglarize historic buildings.

Churches are vulnerable. I’m not sure increased criminal penalties will prevent this problem, but it can’t hurt I suppose. Increased security and stricter provenance checks are the answer. I am often amazed at the valuable works hanging in Europe’s out-of-the way churches.

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