In an unprecedented case of theft, four thieves removed 31 pine trees from the courtyard of a mosque in northwestern Turkey.
The mosque in Sakarya province's Serdivan district was filled with worshipers gathered for evening prayers when the suspects arrived. In the 12 minutes that the prayer lasted, they chopped down the trees and loaded them onto a truck before fleeing the scene. The faithful, who are obliged not to pay attention to anything other than praying, only discovered the theft once they left the mosque. The mosque's custodians handed over security camera footage showing suspects removing the trees to police and an investigation is underway to capture them.
Ruhi Cinak, head of an association which maintains the mosque, told reporters that the trees were planted some four years ago, after the construction of the mosque was completed. "It was a sad scene here. This is as horrible as murder. We are sad and angry," he said. Cinak said they would plant new trees in place of the stolen ones.