People have to start to learn how to protect there synagogues. Synagogues are no longer the safe place we once thought them to be, as the rash of recent burglaries show.
Police arrested a Kew Gardens man Tuesday who allegedly stole two silver Torah crowns from Young Israel of Queens Valley in Kew Gardens Hills on Aug. 16 and other Judaica from two additional synagogues earlier this year.
Roman Iskhavov, 26, of 125th Street, was expected to be charged Wednesday with burglary, grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. He faces up to seven years in prison.It is alleged that Iskhakov made statements to the police admitting he took several of the items from two of the burglaries and sold them at pawn shops.
According to police, the first burglary took place on June 18 at Congregation Ahavath Sholom at 75-02 113 St. in Forest Hills, stealing Torah breast plates, a silver pointer, a wine cup and a silver-coated plate.
Then, on Aug. 14 he allegedly broke into Beth Gavriel Center for Bukharian Jews at 66-35 108 St., also in Forest Hills, and stole a silver plate, a silver pointer and a charity box containing $200.
Members of the Young Israel synagogue at 141-55 77 Ave. only realized last week that the two pieces that cover the Torah were missing. It had been believed that a volunteer had taken them home to polish prior to Rosh Hashanah, which is on Sept. 17. But Young Israel’s security cameras caught the thief entering the building and walking off with the silver.
The video shows a man wearing a black yarmulka on his head enter the building and pick up a prayer book. But he did not enter the sanctuary.
Instead, he went to the basement and took the Torah crowns while the people upstairs were participating in evening services. The crowns are worth $1,300.
The video also shows the man leaving the synagogue with the items in a plastic bag.
In February, a similar crime occurred only blocks away at Congregation Rachel Degel Israel on 68th Drive. Silver Torah items worth $15,000 were stolen. A man who lives nearby was arrested shortly afterward when police were tipped off by a pawnshop owner where the thief had tried to sell the items