ATHENS, Greece – Police detained five people for questioning over the theft of a cherished, 700-year-old church icon believed to have the power to perform miracles, authorities said Saturday.
Thieves scaled a cliff a week ago and stole the Icon of The Virgin Mary from the Orthodox Christian monastery of Elona in southern Greece, near the town of Leonidio, about 185 miles southwest of Athens.
The icon drew thousands of worshippers every year. After the Aug. 19 theft, police set up roadblocks in the eastern Peloponnese region and launched a helicopter search — but the icon has not been found, authorities said.
Police said five people were questioned over the theft and released. Leonidio Mayor Dimitris Tsigounis said he believed police were closing in on the robbers but did not elaborate.
"We are urging those who took the icon to give it up," he said. "I don't think they will be able to sell it easily. It is too well known."
Tsigounis said police were tracing the source of ropes used by the robbers and left behind at the monastery. Detectives and special police forces also have been sent to the area from Athens.