The indignation in St. Apostles in large: In Cologne's inner-city church, thieves broke out the Jesus figures from the Stations of the Cross on Tuesday and took them with them. our site spoke with the security officer of St. Apostles.
Interviewer: How could the theft happen at all in the middle of the day?
Stefan Weirich (security officer at St. Apostles): First of all, the horror is great, the act has surprised. Also the seriousness of the act, namely that tools have been used to break out figures from a wall relief. The consternation of the people is very great. The crime took place at a time when a change had taken place and there was no church supervision in the church room. The perpetrator or perpetrators must have timed their attack to coincide with this event.
Interviewer: So probably a planned theft. When did you notice the theft?
Stefan WeirichWe determined who saw what and when. I interviewed all the witnesses myself: the church wardens, the sexton, the parish secretary, neighbors, and also visitors to the church. St. Aposteln has a lot of regular churchgoers who spend a certain amount of time there at lunchtime. And so we were able to narrow down the time of the crime very precisely and now know that it must have happened between 1 and 2 p.m. If anyone has seen anything, we ask them to contact us.
Interviewer: The community is concerned. Fear also plays a role?
Stefan Weirich: The first image has made a very strong impression on me. I came to the church and in front of the entrance I met an elderly lady who was walking with a cane and crying bitterly. She told me they can't imagine at all that something like this could happen in their church. She was completely scared and upset. I then had a longer conversation with her and realized that she was completely devastated. Because the theft was also so violent.
Interviewer: Tuesday's theft is not the first in St. Apostles. Only at Easter, metal thieves had ripped lightning rods from their anchors and stolen objects from the sacristy of the church. What consequences do you draw from the incidents?
Stefan Weirich: Father Vosen summed it up very well and said: These things are not to be accepted. We have thought about what we can do, have also asked the police for advice a long time ago, because we have also been in St. Maria in Kupfergasse had problems. And the police have advised us to develop a security concept and also offered us help. This includes putting out flyers asking people not to look the other way but to do something if they see a crime being committed. Police also urge people to come forward and press charges. I try to support this with my work and to work into the church community. I tell people: Please don't look away if a bag is stolen, don't look away if someone behaves violently and steals a thing. We have now made a prevention concept. This goes so far that now the church supervisors are also trained by the police themselves. So the Criminal Investigation Department for Victim Protection and Prevention has agreed to do this. We are very grateful for that. And now everyone from the sexton to the priest to the parish secretary is being trained. They also learn how to deal with aggression. As far as the crimes of theft and vandalism are concerned, we are considering measures to be able to clear up the matter better later on. This is where the sensitive subject of camera surveillance comes into play, but it is the subject of very broad discussion. Monitoring a church room with a camera is a very sensitive subject.
Interviewer: Will you keep the church closed in the future or offer shortened opening hours?
No, absolutely not. Pastor Vosen has decided quite clearly: The church remains open. We will do everything we can to ensure that the church remains a safe space in the future.
The interview was conducted by Birgitt Schippers