Updated 01/21/2013 04:31 PM
Reward Offered After Car Thief Makes Off With Torah Inside
Police are asking for the public's help tracking down a stolen car last seen outside a Brooklyn synagogue over the weekend which the owner says contained a Torah valued at around $30,000. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
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The daughter of a Brooklyn rabbi, who did not want to appear on camera, is hoping someone will hear her plea. Her father, Rabbi Binyomin Tamaiev, leases space for his services at the congregation Agudath Shalom of Flatbush. On Friday night he parked a rental car outside the 18th Avenue building, tucked the keys out of sight and didn't look for them again until after the Sabbath.
"Saturday night after services were over he went to get the car keys, the car keys weren't where he expected to find them. He went outside, the car was gone," said Congregation Agudath Shalom of Flatbush Acting President Walter Rosenblatt.
The car, a gray 2007 Toyota Corolla, is worth far less than its cargo. In the trunk was a Torah scroll, so sacred it would normally be kept locked in a safe.
"He was panicking. That the car was stolen is panic enough but when something so valuable, so spiritual so holy is stolen in such a safe area," said the rabbi's daughter.
Police released a photo of a Torah similar to the stolen one which they say is worth $30,000. Also in the vehicle were five Tefillin worth roughly $500 each as well as the tools Rabbi Tamaiev uses to repair religious items including the stolen torah which belongs to a congregation in Queens.
Since the charity boxes were also empty, Rosenblatt believes the thief was looking for money when they came across the car keys.
"I don't know how he would have known there was anything of value in the trunk," he said.
Officials at the synagogue are hoping that surveillance cameras on a neighboring building may have captured the car thief in action. But in the end the victims say it's not the vehicle they want back, just its sacred contents.
"If you can please give it back, even anonymously, just put it there. We won't get you in trouble, just give it back," said the rabbi's daughter.
Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind is offering a $3,000 reward for the safe return of the Torah.
Anyone with information on the case should contact the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS, or text CRIMES and then enter TIP577, or visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.