ARCADIA (CBSLA.com) — Police on Wednesday were investigating reported break-ins at two Arcadia church buildings over the last two weeks.
The first incident occurred overnight Jan. 19-20 at the Church of the Good Shepherd at 400 West Duarte Road.
The suspect(s) forced open a door to the church office, ransacked the interior, and threw clergy robes on the ground.
A fire extinguisher was discharged in the office and the suspect(s) burned part of a portrait hanging on the office wall before making off with a guitar and other sound equipment.
Shortly after 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the police department received a 911 call from a passerby reporting suspicious activity at Holy Angeles Church located at 330 Campus Drive.
Police and fire units arrived on scene and discovered an administrative building on the church property had been broken into and there was smoke inside the building.
Evidence of a small fire was found against an interior hallway wall, having burnt a small area of carpet and papers.
Investigators believe the suspect(s) broke an office window to gain entry. Once inside, two religious statues and a DVD player were broken and tossed to the ground inside a small chapel, and an interior officer door was kicked in.
The suspect(s) also appear to have rummaged through several rooms inside the building.
Detectives said due to the similarities of the crimes and the proximity of the churches, other area religious facilities should be on the watch for similar or suspicious activity.
Although neither crime involved entry to the church sanctuaries, both events involved religious artifacts or items and detectives are treating them as religious-based hate crimes.
Anyone with information on this incident is encouraged to contact the Arcadia Police Department at (626) 574-5150. If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing 800-222-TIPS (8477), texting the letters “TIPLA” plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or using the tip page at Los Angeles Regional Crime Stoppers.