Volunteers and staff at the Bibles for Missions thrift store in Guelph, Ontario were shocked last week to find that a 165-year-old Bible had been stolen from the store's Christmas window display.
General manager Robyn Pyrczak told HuffPost over the phone that the hole left in the window made it seem as though the thief tried to use a glass cutter to neatly access the book but got frustrated and ended up smashing it instead.
View of the broken window at Bibles for Missions thrift store.
"There's been a real sadness among the volunteers," Pyrczak said. "Clearly [the thief] didn't take it for the value of the words in it. Anyone who knows the true value wouldn't have stolen it."
Pyrczak said she hesitated to include the heirloom Bible in the thrift store's Christmas display because of its worth but ultimately decided to do so, placing it alongside a miniature wooden rocking chair, fireplace, train set and nativity scene.
"It was a beautiful book -- leather bound, gold plated, 1200 pages. It made quite a statement," Pyrczak said. "It was a donation given to us years ago and we had kept it not sure what to do with it. We had it appraised a year ago and decided Christmas time would be a nice time to auction it."
The Bible that was stolen from Bibles for Missions thrift store.
Several local news outlets have reported on the theft, and Pyrczak said she is already "amazed with the response." Her immediate concern is covering the damage expenses, as she said the store's insurance deductible barely covers the window repair costs.
Bible for Missions is a small non-profit that sends the bulk of its proceeds to Bible League Canada, an organization that conducts Bible-based literacy programs around the world. HuffPost reached out to Bible League to see if the organization had heard news of the theft but did not get a response.
In spite of everything Pyrczak said she sees a silver lining in the positive responses she has received, even from strangers, and hopes the Bible might still find its way back to her store. Last year a stolen, 300-year-old Bible was returned to its owner through a series of unexpected events, and another heirloom Bible was returned to Holy Trinity Church in Hastings, England by a remorseful thief 42 years after being snatched.
Until a similar miracle happens for Bibles for Missions, Pyrczak is comforted by a "wonderful thing" that happened as news of the theft spread.
"I had a gentleman call last night who said he had a beautiful Bible he wanted to donate to us," Pyrczak shared. "Things like that help to create a balance between the bad and the good."