Queens man arrested for synagogue crime spree


| ctumola@queenscourier.com |

Photo courtesy of Young Israel of Queens Valley
Photo courtesy of Young Israel of Queens Valley

A man who allegedly stole two valuable Torah crowns from a Kew Gardens Hills synagogue was arrested August 28.

A Kew Gardens man who stole religious items from three Queens synagogues this summer has been arrested and charged with burglary, grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, according to District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

“We’re very happy he’s been caught,” said Rosalyn Ungar, an administrator at Young Israel of Queens Valley, the third synagogue hit during the crime spree. “Hopefully this [arrest] will be a deterrent for any future robberies of religious institutions.”

Arrested on August 28, Roman Iskhakov, 26, first robbed Ahavath Sholom on 113th Street in Forest Hills on the morning of June 18, taking several religious items, including Torah breast plates, a silver pointer, wine cup and silver-coated plate, said the district attorney’s office.

Next, he burglarized Beth Gavriel Center for Bukharian Jews at 108th Street, also in Forest Hills, on the morning of August 14 and stole a silver plate, silver pointer and charity box containing around $200. Surveillance video showed a man taking several items from the synagogue and leaving.

The last stop on his crime spree was Young Israel of Queens Valley on August 16. Around 8 p.m., during evening services, he took two silver Torah crowns. Again, the suspect was caught on the synagogue’s security cameras.

According to the district attorney’s office, the value of the stolen goods from all three synagogues is more than $3,000. Iskhakov allegedly sold some of the items at pawnshops.

“I’m grateful that they caught him and I hope that we can get our silver back in the condition in which it was stolen,” said Ahavath Sholom’s office manager David Rodgers. The synagogue doesn’t know whether its items were among the ones pawned.

At Iskhakov’s August 29 arraignment the judge set bail at $50,000, according to court records. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

Iskhakov is represented by Legal Aid, according to the DA. Multiple attempts to reach an attorney were unsuccessful.