Fifty statues of Christ and other Christian figures have been defaced and smashed apart in a crime wave sweeping parts of Germany.
Statues in the Münster region in the west of Germany have been targeted over a series of months – including one of Jesus which had its head lopped off, and many more missing limbs or other fragments.
Police in the area say they suspect a “religious background” to the crimes, but have yet to name any suspects.
The series of attacks on Christian imagery was brought to light in a report by a division of the state broadcaster WDR.
Their news show, Lokalzeit Münsterland, reported the crime wave on their 8 December edition, and also on social media:
Mirko Stein of the Münster police told the channel: “large numbers of the people in the neighborhood where the sculptures are shocked and scared”.
“Based on the intensity of the acts of the perpetrator, one can already conclude that this act has a religious background.”
German criminologist Christian Pfeifer believes crimes were committed by someone who is “angry” and “hates the Church”.
Similar crimes against Christian artifacts in the area have been recorded as well.
According to the German tabloid Bild, 40 sculptures had been attacked in the two years preceding the current crime wave.
Police were investigating six men with alleged links to Islamic extremists, but gave up after three left for Syria, one died and the other two dropped off the radar.