Two recent Arcadia church vandalisms prompt hate crime investigation

ARCADIA — An Arcadia church was vandalized and set on fire for the second time in the past two weeks in what police are investigating as possible hate crimes.
The break-ins and vandalisms took place about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Holy Angels Church, 330 Campus Drive, and sometime overnight between Jan. 19 and 20 at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 400 West Duarte Road, Arcadia police officials said in a written statement.
“What we’re trying to do is get the word out to the religious community,” Arcadia police Sgt. Tom Le Veque said.
Due to the similarity in the crimes, as well as the proximity and timing between them, detectives suspected the incidents may be related and asked the community to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior, the sergeant said.
“Although neither crime involved entry into the church sanctuaries, both events involved religious artifacts or items and we are treating these as religious-based hate crimes,” according to the police statement. Both crimes occurred in portions of the churches used for administrative offices.
In the most recent crime, an unknown vandal or vandals broke in through an office window and smashed two religious statues and a DVD player, Le Veque said.
They also kicked in the interior office door and rummaged through several rooms in the building, police said.
Investigators were not aware of anything missing from the Holy Angels Church Wednesday, Le Veque added.
Officials found smoke inside the church when they arrived and also discovered a small fire of papers and carpet against an interior hallway inside the building, officials said.
Police encountered a similar scene when responded to a report of a break-in at the Church of the Good Shepherd on the morning of Jan. 20, Le Veque said.
Officials found a door to an administrative building forced open and the interior ransacked, police said.
Clergy robes were thrown on the ground, a fire extinguisher had been discharged within the building and a religious portrait hanging on the wall had been set on fire, investigators said. A guitar and other sound equipment was stolen from the church.
No suspect description was available Wednesday.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Arcadia police at 626-574-5150. Tips can also be submitted anonymously by calling L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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