ANAHEIM (CBSLA) – A man broke into a church in Anaheim and stole electronics and religious items early Wednesday morning, authorities said.
Anaheim police were reportedly called to Saint Gregory Coptic Orthodox Church in the 1600 block of West La Palma Avenue around 6:25 a.m. after someone reported the church’s rear door was left open after an alarm was set off.
Security footage showed a man breaking into the church and stole two iPads, a laptop, a projector, and a microphone.
The suspect also damaged property inside of the church and stole irreplaceable items, including the box that stored the gospel.
“Shock, sadness, disbelief because not only was this a burglary, it also resulted in the desecration of the altar and some of the vessels we use in our worship,” Samaan told CBSLA’s Jake Reiner. “The items can be replaced but these liturgical items they have a special place in our heart, they are the symbol of our worship and it creates just a magnificent, emotional and psychological toll.”
The suspect was seen carrying a flashlight and wearing gloves as he walked through the building, opening doors and going up and down the staircase.
Church member Sophia Soliman said, “Especially for things that are very sensitive, that we venerate and you know treat very respectfully, to see them treated in a way that we would never do really subversive, it’s really hard to see.”
The Anaheim Police Department said they have not seen any evidence at this point that would point to the burglary as a hate crime so it is being treated as an isolated burglary.
The community has already come together to raise more than $3,500 according to the church’s Facebook page.
Never wavering from his optimism, Samaan said, “He has the prayers of our entire community. We’re praying that God may bring him back to his senses.”