As previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2fe7joT), the four Sephardic torahs in sterling silver cases were removed from the Avenue O Synagogue by a man who appeared to be dressed as an Orthodox Jew. Synagogue officials estimated the value of the stolen Torahs at $240,000. Several other Torahs that were not in silver cases were left behind by the thief.
The synagogue’s vice president, who declined to give his name, told VIN News that surveillance video showed an unmarked van pulling up in front of the building at 12:40 AM.
An unidentified man removed the four Torahs from the van and left them in bags on the sidewalk in front of the synagogue. A man who had been learning inside the synagogue found the Torahs when he left the building at 1 AM. After bringing the Torahs inside, the man contacted both synagogue officials and the police.
According to the vice president of the synagogue, the person who returned the Torahs does not appear to be the same individual who took them from the aron kodeh, which was locked at the time of the theft.
Councilman David Greenfield said that none of the four Torahs were damaged in the theft.
“We are obviously very excited and pleased and the community is incredibly grateful,” Greenfield told VIN News.
Greenfield, who offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who stole the Torahs, said that the NYPD had received hundreds of tips to aid them in their investigation.
Special celebrations are planned at the Ave O Synagogue, according to Greenfield.
“The rov said that they are looking forward to giving these four Torahs the hakafos they didn’t have on Simchas Torah,” said Greenfield.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind said that he was overjoyed to hear the good news.
“This caused shockwaves in the Jewish community and now that this has happened there is a sense of unbelievable relief,” said Hikind. “It is wonderful to go into Shabbos knowing that the Torahs have been returned.”