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Man arrested in St. Helen’s chalice burglary

Police have recovered two chalices stolen from St. Helen’s Church in Howard Beach, including one worth $10,000, and have arrested a 20-year-old man in the theft.

Theodore Kurpiewski, of 80-17 156th Ave. in Howard Beach, was arraigned March 10 on charges of burglary, grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and criminal mischief before Queens Criminal Court Judge Joseph Zayas, who released Kurpiewski on his own recognizance, a spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Tuesday.

Sometime between 4 p.m. on Feb. 25 and 6:15 a.m. on Feb. 26, the door to the Roman Catholic church at 157-10 83rd St. in Howard Beach was broken into.

About $100 was stolen from the poor box and the sacristy, where the chalices were kept, was burglarized.

A $10,000 chalice belonging to the Rev. Robert Keighron was taken.

The chalice, Keighron said, was designed by himself and handcrafted in the Netherlands and was a gift from his family on his ordination day.

“It’s sad that someone would take something that has tremendous personal sentimental value that really won’t get them very much,” Keighron told TimesLedger Newspapers following the burglary, noting that the chalice had his name on the bottom of the cup, so another church would have noticed it was stolen if the burglar tried to sell it.

Keighron could not be reached after the chalices were returned to the church last week.

A detective with the 106th Precinct would not say whether Kurpiewski attends St. Helen’s.

A chalice worth $1,000 belonging to Monsignor Alfred LoPinto of St. Helen’s was also taken, Keighron said. That chalice was left out on a counter in the sacristy while Keighron’s cup was in a locked cupboard, he said.

LoPinto could not be reached for comment.

Kurpiewski allegedly admitted burglarizing St. Helen’s to a 106th Precinct detective and said he broke the doorknob of the sacristy to get in, according to the criminal complaint filed.

His next court date was scheduled for Wednesday, the DA’s spokeswoman said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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