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Relics stolen from Ventura mission recovered

November 6, 2012 |  1:09 pm
Ventura mission

Ventura police said Tuesday that eight of nine relics stolen from Mission San Buenaventura have been recovered.

The relics include two medallions holding tiny bone chips of Father Junipero Serra, founder of the California missions, and two others with bone fragments of the Ventura mission's patron, St. Bonaventure.

The alleged thief, Edward Burgess, 26, was arrested in the Ventura County Jail, where he is awaiting trial for an alleged Oct. 31 burglary of a Ventura automated teller machine. He also was accused of resisting arrest and possession of methamphetamines.

Police described him as an addict who hoped to sell the stolen relics to buy drugs.

The items were taken Oct. 12 from the mission's baptistry. They had been hanging in a shadow box on the wall and their absence from the infrequently used room was only noticed last Saturday.

Video surveillance tapes showed a man breaking into the baptistry and scooping the medallions out of their display box. He appeared to be the same man who had been caught earlier allegedly attempting to break into a church maintenance vehicle. Burgess was later arrested in that incident.

A church spokesman said the relics have little street value, particularly without documents verifying their authenticity. Such documents were also hanging in the baptistry but were untouched.

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-- Steve Chawkins

Photo: Mission San Buenaventura. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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