Archbishopric: thousands of artifacts stolen from churches and chapels

Hundreds of thousands of precious artifacts have been stolen from Czech churches in the past twenty years, Vladimír Kelnar from the Prague Archbishopric told the CTK news agency. Some of the less frequented churches and chapels have been virtually plundered, with close to half of the Gothic and Renaissance works of art and roughly one-third of Baroque artifacts stolen. Mr. Kelnar said thieves work on demand, often smuggling the works abroad to collectors and it was difficult for the police to trace and bring them back. In some places priests have started locking church doors to the public when they are not in attendance in an effort to protect what is left.