Torahs valued at $200K returned to Brooklyn synagogue after being stolen

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MIDWOOD, Brooklyn —Four sacred Torah scrolls worth more than $200,000 that were stolen from a Brooklyn synagogue were all returned early Friday.

But police are still searching for the suspect who stole them in the first place.

The scrolls were stolen from the Avenue O Synagogue around 1 a.m. Tuesday.

A congregant leaving the synagogue around 1:30 a.m. Friday discovered the Torahs in large bags by the synagogue's doors. Surveillance video shows a man returning the Torahs wrapped in garbage bags.

"It seems that the enormous pressure has, thank God, forced the late night return of the Torahs" said Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition Chairman Josh Mehlman.

But police say the man returning the scrolls is not the same person who stole them earlier this week.

Surveillance video from the theft shows the culprit, who is described as a man in his 20s, entering the place of worship while apparently wearing a yarmulke. It is unknown if the individual is Jewish. No arrests have been made.

City Councilman David Greenfield said the burglary was "especially upsetting" because it occurred during the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah – a time when observant Jews around the world celebrate the annual completion of the weekly reading of the Torah portion.

"You have to understand that these Torah scrolls, in the Jewish faith, are actually the most important religious article that any community owns. And so their loss was tremendous," Greenfield said.

Council Member Greenfield has offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Other organizations have since chipped in bringing the total reward to $10,000.

“I am thrilled that these Torah scrolls, stolen by a shameful coward in the dead of night on Simchat Torah, were returned last night,” Greenfield said

The Council Member says the reward, along with the clear video, may have convinced the burglar to return the scrolls.

"I will award $1,000 to anyone who provides information that leads to the capture and conviction of the despicable criminal who committed this crime," Greenfield said. "We will not tolerate this outrageous criminal activity in our community.

While police continue to search for the person responsible, the council member says the Synagogue will celebrate the return of the Torahs.

"We're confident that the police will get to the bottom of it, but a huge sense of relief, excitement, and joy that we have recovered these Torah scrolls in time for Shabbos services tomorrow," said Greenfield.

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