Police: ‘Obsessed’ former employee stole $200k organ from Pa. church
Police yesterday recovered a missing pipe organ valued at $200,000 that was stolen last month from a closed Pittsburgh church, according to a report from The Pittsburgh Times-Tribune.
The culprit is allegedly a former organist who wanted to “protect” the instrument, said a spokeswoman for St. Mary of the Mount Parish, which recently merged with the St. Justin Catholic Church.
Investigators said the organ was last month dismantled piece by piece and stolen from the shuttered St. Justin Church.
The suspect, whose identity has not been released, reportedly played the instrument at services 2004 to 2010. He told detectives he still had a key to the church and took the organ for safekeeping because he was “obsessed with the beauty of the organ and did not want to see it damaged” according to police.
The organist said he was concerned because the temperature extremes inside the church during winter and summer months could damage the pipes’ leather bellows. He reportedly confessed after hearing media reports about the theft investigation.
The man agreed to safely return the instrument and apologize to the church. The church does not plan to press charges. A church spokeswoman said she believed the organist would be invited to play services there in the future.