Valletta: Thieves trick priests after stealing paintings and leaving others in their place instead
The Police are investigating the theft of paintings from the Convent of the Augustine Priests in Valletta. The paintings are valued at thousands of Euros, but the Police investigation has been hampered by the fact that the priests may not have realised what had happened immediately because the thieves did not leave the walls empty but hung similar, fake paintings in their place instead.
Sources close to the convent said that the theft involves an important eccelesiastical patrimony which is valued at thousands of Euro. From information obtained by TVM, the theft was carried out very carefully with the thieves replacing the stolen paintings so that the priests would not realise what had happened. According to sources, it has not yet been established whether the paintings which were hung on the wall are a fake replica of the stolen paintings and whether they were brought into the convent by the thieves themselves, or whether paintings had been moved around in the convent. At the moment, some work is being carried in part of the convent.
Other sources close to the investigation told TVM that this was not an easy case for the Police because the priests do not know exactly when the paintings went missing. This could mean that from the time the theft occurred until a Police report was filed, several days may have passed. Even the dynamics of the robbery raises a lot of questions because it appears that the thieves were allowed to work freely and had a good knowledge of the layout of the place. The sources also said that paintings such as the L-Aċċjomu (Ecce Uomo) had valuable objects on them.
A Magisterial inquiry has been opened on this case.
Contacted by TVM, the Order’s Provincial, Fr Leslie Gatt, confirmed that that the paintings had been stolen from the convent and said this was a sad experience for the Order. He hoped that the stolen paintings would be returned and appealed to anyone who has any information to pass it on to the Police.