Caught on Camera: Rare religious statue stolen from the alter of Camden County church

Leaders of a New Jersey Catholic Church are asking for the return of a rare religious statue they say was stolen from the alter of their chapel last week.

Monsignor Louis Marucci, the pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle in Camden County, said the church's Our Lady of Fatima statue was swiped by a man around 4 p.m. Tuesday. 

The Gibbsboro Police Department confirmed to they are searching for a man captured on surveillance video sneaking into the church and taking the meaningful statue. 

The unknown suspect is seen on video emerging from the woods and peering into the church through a window. 


He then enters the chapel and makes sure the coast is clear before taking the 3.5 foot statue and walking out a side door. 

Monsignor Marucci believes the thief has been to the church before and could be a local. 

"They don’t exit the door they came in so obviously they knew parish and church," Marucci said. "It's incomprehensible that someone would actually take it out of its place of enthronement." 

St. Andrew the Apostle's Our Lady of Fatima statue is one of just four in existence.

For Monsignor Marucci and the parish community, the statue - just one of four in existence - represents a unique and powerful connection to Jesus. 

"The monetary value can't even hold a candle to the spiritual and symbolic significance of the image," Monsignor Marucci said. 

The church planned for a statue to be front-and-center for this Thursday's all-day prayer event in honor of the blessed Virgin Mary's birthday. 

"I will press charges because in my thought if an intentional crime - sin - needs to be punished," Monsignor Marucci said. "I'm just praying that it gets returned before Thursday, somebody knows where this person lives."