Two statues stolen from the Carmelite Monastery in Royal Oak on Friday – including one of Jesus – have been found and returned to the church.

Police returned the statues this afternoon, which were found in a cemetery.

The statue of Jesus is taken from the church. Photo / Supplied
The statue of Jesus is taken from the church. Photo / Supplied

Sister Miriam of the Carmelite Monastery said the hands of the larger Sacred Heart Jesus statue were smashed, and the top of the smaller Infant Jesus of Prague statue was also broken.

"They must've dumped [them] when they'd seen all the publicity," she said. "We have a sister that is very good at mending statues."

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A couple placed the statues in a car and then drove off. Photo / Supplied
A couple placed the statues in a car and then drove off. Photo / Supplied

CCTV footage captured the moment a man and a woman entered the church, before leaving with the statues and carrying them to a car.

The incident happened between 6.49am and 7am Friday.

The church then made an appeal via social media for the return of the "precious statues".

On Saturday afternoon, Sister Miriam told the Herald that a person who knew the man who featured in the CCTV footage rang the monastery this morning to tell them who he was. The names were then given to the police.

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Sister Miriam is unsure why anyone would want to steal the statues in the first place. It's the third time in a year the church had been targeted by robbers.

"They have great sacramental value, but monetary value – nothing. Some strange person could sell them at the flea market or on Trade Me."

She doubts there was any religious motivation.

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A man pictured taking a Jesus statue from an Auckland church on Friday. Photo / Supplied
A man pictured taking a Jesus statue from an Auckland church on Friday. Photo / Supplied
Police want to talk to the pair seen taking the statues. Photos / Supplied
Police want to talk to the pair seen taking the statues. Photos / Supplied

The history of the larger Jesus statue dates back to 1940, when the church first moved to Auckland. The smaller Infant Jesus of Prague statue was at least 40 years old, she said.

The Jesus statue sat in a little enclave at the entrance of the church.

"The people in the church, it's the first thing they see when they come to talk to us. A lot of people stand there to pray."

Sister Miriam said the stolen statues weren't noticed until the morning's mass was over.
"Some of the ladies at the back of the chapel were shocked and dismayed.

"I am just so grateful for the public response, I feel [we] have uncovered the mystery."

Police confirmed they will be making follow-up inquiries in relation to the theft.