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BRADDOCK (KDKA) — Residents of one Braddock neighborhood know First United Presbyterian Church and it’s beautiful stained glass windows.
But if you look closer, you will notice, boards have replaced some of them. Fifteen of the windows in all were stolen sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
A passerby thought the windows had been left open.
“We believe they forced entry through a basement window and came in through the inside,” Jason Togyer, of the Mon Valley Initiative, said.
First United closed its doors back in 2017 due to declining attendance. Last year, the building was purchased by the non-profit community development organization the Mon Valley Initiative. They plan to convert the church to eight apartment units, preserving as much of the historic building as possible, and they had hoped to keep all of the stained glass windows.
Togyer says this was not the only church hit in the area and this one is still operating as a place of worship.
“Potters House Ministries over on Camp Avenue was hit about two weeks ago. Someone stole 18 stained glass windows from that church, so somebody’s working this area and is targeting churches and taking stained glass windows,” Togyer said.
Unfortunately, the stolen windows from First United don’t have pictures of Jesus or crosses, just mostly flowers, so no one would really know they were taken from a church.
But Braddock Police and the Mon Valley Initiative have contacted salvage and antique dealers and asked them to be on the look out for the windows.
“This is literally stealing from the poor to give to the rich. What will probably happen to these windows, which are irreplaceable, is that they will be incorporated into someone’s high-end house somewhere or some remodeled business somewhere, so they target churches in poor communities,” Togyer said.
Anyone with information on the theft is asked to call Braddock Police at 412-351-5400, or MVI at 412-464-4000 X 4023.