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February 11, 2013
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Robbed while praying at church - Thieves strike as worshippers call on God

Diandra Grandison, Star Writer

Thieves are becoming more brazen and disrespectful with their misdeeds after it was recently reported that a religious institution got robbed at the height of prayer.

Sheikh Musa, head of the Central Masjid (Islamic Council of Jamaica), told THE STAR he and members of his mosque have been robbed on multiple occasions while praying.

He said: "People will come to know about our prayer. When we pray, we don't look back, we concentrate, and they would steal from us during prayer."

Musa said items ranging from cellular phones to shoes had been stolen from literally under the worshippers' noses.

Because of these brazen thefts, the council was forced to divert from common practice. "In our religion, we do not wear shoes on sacred ground, but because of the theft, we've had to build cupboards and place our shoes inside instead of outside."

He said as a precautionary measure, "whenever visitors come, we now put them in a particular location so we can see them when we pray. We also appoint amongst ourselves one person to monitor items during prayer."

But the mosque is not the only religious institution plagued by the theft.

fair share

Ann-Marie White, church secretary at the Constant Spring Church of Christ off Mannings Hill Road, said the church has seen its fair share of brazen thefts.

"We got robbed around four or five times a year. They would clean out the church office and take the electronics, even the pencil sharpener and also the folding chairs. On more than one occasion, the church's mahogany doors have been stolen, and we've been forced to replace them with plain plyboard instead," she revealed.

She recalled an instance when the church's homework centre was robbed. "We have a homework centre with a computer room, and the thieves took out the body of the computer, leaving only the shell."

White said the church had been forced to implement an array of protective measures. "We have to pay someone $2,000 every Sunday to watch the cars. We've installed panic alarms and grilles."

RESPECT

Honorary Secretary at the downtown Kingston-based United Congregation of Israelites (Synagogue), Ainsley Henrique, said theft is no longer a problem there. "Years ago, items such as brass candlesticks got stolen, but we have considerate and caring neighbours so theft is not an issue for us here."

But while thieves would disregard the sanctity of other religious institutions, there appears to be some modicum of respect for those of the occult.

Professor Aba of the House of Power Society, an occult organisation based in Montego Bay, St James, said theft was not an issue there. "No one will want to steal from me, Professor Aba. If such a thing should happen, I would ensure that I make an example out of that individual. I have not implemented any preventative measures because I am sure there is no need to do so, " he said. "I am more interested in the effect of what will happen if an event like this should take place."

All the religious institutions believe the robberies were done by outsiders.

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