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Thieves spend hours stealing safe, other valuables from Calgary church

Calgary church robbed by thieves
WATCH ABOVE: A place of worship in Calgary was targeted by thieves who spent hours Saturday morning taking cash and valuables. Blake Lough reports.

Members of the Kidanemhret Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church in northeast Calgary hope surveillance video will lead to the identification of two thieves and the return of thousands of dollars’ worth of property.

Security footage shows two individuals arrived at the church around 4:30 Saturday morning and left around 6:45 a.m., approximately fifteen minutes before a church member arrived to find the place of worship had been robbed.

“I was just completely shocked,” church member Yonas Afework said.

“Who would do this to a church? This is a house of God, this is a house of worship.”

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READ MORE: Calgary police looking for man after 2 robberies on Tuesday

Afework and his brother Ermias Afework told Global News the thieves made off with construction tools, electronic equipment, cash from donation boxes and a large safe containing valuables like golden crosses from Greece.

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“[The priest] said in the morning that everything could be worth more than $40,000,” Ermias Afework said.

The brothers believe at least one of the suspects had prior knowledge of the building. The church has been under renovation for the past two years.

Ermias Afework said one of the thieves carefully dismantled a window pane, rather than smashing through the glass.

“The only way to open it is by prying out… four frames. He took the frame out, he removed the glass. He knew exactly how to take it apart,” he said.

“They definitely knew what they were doing,” Yonas Afework added.

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According to the brothers, the thieves spent hours collecting valuables from the church and ransacking its offices until finally a dolly was used to remove the safe.

Security video shows the thieves struggling to lift the safe into the back of a blue truck, eventually giving up. Minutes later, the pair uses the truck to push the safe to the other side of the parking lot.

At one point, one of the suspects leaves the truck without his mask. Shortly after, the security cameras are disconnected.

“They tried disconnecting the cameras and taking the main box that actually records the video,” Yonas Afework said.

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“They weren’t successful and they left that where it is. If it wasn’t for that, we wouldn’t have the video of them.”

Church members hope the police and the public will be able to identify the man.

“We have really good video. Hopefully [the public] can identify this person as soon as possible, before they start pawning our stuff,” Ermias Afework said.

Calgary police confirm they are investigating the robbery.