VENTURA ( — A 26-year-old homeless man is in custody Tuesday, accused of stealing nearly a dozen religious relics from the Ventura Mission.

Edward Burgess is facing charges of commercial burglary and resisting arrest in relation to the thefts.

On Oct. 12, Ventura police officers responded to a report of a theft from an unlocked maintenance vehicle at the Ventura Mission, located at 211 East Main Street.

“A maintenance worker had interrupted the theft, and after the suspect, Mark Burgess fled the property, Patrol Officers located him,” Cmdr. Brock Avery said in a news release.

Several weeks later on Nov. 3, Father Tom Elewaut noticed several items were out of place in the mission’s Baptism Room, which happened to be equipped with surveillance video.

mission relic 2 2 Police Recover 8 Of 9 Religious Relics From Ventura Mission

(credit: Ventura Police Dept.)

“When he reviewed the video, he discovered nine of the relics had been stolen from the room.  The burglary occurred the same date (10/12/12) as the aforementioned theft from the maintenance vehicle,” Avery said.

Detectives who responded to investigate the theft identified Burgess as the suspect in the video.

“According to the timeline of the events, Burgess had broken into the Baptism Room prior to committing the theft from the maintenance vehicle,” Avery said.

Burgess was already in custody of the Ventura Police Department for prior drug charges, authorities said.

He admitted that he stole the relics to support his drug habit, police said.

Between Nov. 5 and 6, Police were able to recover eight of the nine relics. Detectives are investigating the location of the ninth item, officials said.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the outstanding relic is urged to call the Ventura Police Department at (805) 339-4416.


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