DENVER -- A Catholic church in Denver was burglarized earlier this week, and its clergy worries other places of worship could be next.
"We've had minor things happen, but nothing of this nature has ever, ever happened here," Deacon Clarence McDavid said Friday.
Between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, leaders with Curé d'Ars Catholic Church, located off of Dahlia Street, say thieves broke in and stole thousands of dollars worth of equipment.
That included surveillance cameras, sound and live-streaming equipment and the copper piping in and around the building.
By removing the copper piping, the thieves also caused flooding in the basement, which is home to the church's Sunday school. The air conditioning no longer works as a result.
It'll take time to clean up, repair or replace a lot of this, the clergy says.
"We are looking at several weeks now," Father Joseph Cao said.
But perhaps the worst of it all: the thieves stole many of what the church calls its sacred vessels.
"My heart sank and said, 'Oh, my God, the tabernacle is gone,'" Father Joseph recalled when discovering the break-in Tuesday.
The tabernacle contains what Catholics consider the body and blood of Jesus Christ, he says. It's estimated to cost $5,000.
Out of everything that was stolen, this is what he and Deacon Clarence hope the thieves return.
"Please return the Blessed Sacrament because it's very sacred to us," Father Joseph said.
Despite all of this, the church isn't letting criminal behavior get in the way of worship. Its masses on Saturday and Sunday will go on as scheduled, albeit a bit warmer than normal.
"We have been victimized by a crime, but mass must go on because that is essential to our life as Catholics," Father Joseph said.
The church is asking for prayers as it gets through this. You can also donate online if you'd like to help with some of the costs.
No suspect description is yet available, and Denver police are investigating whether this break-in is connected to a similar break-in at Messiah Community Church, a Lutheran church about two miles south, on Sunday, Aug. 15.
In that break-in, the church's pastor told Denver7 thieves also stole copper pipes from multiple locations around the building, along with sound equipment, blank checks and a laptop.
"It scares me to think that may be what this is ... that we are several churches down the line of that person breaking in," Deacon Clarence said.
Contact Crime Stoppers if you have any information that could help detectives solve either case.