Police say they are treating the recent vandalism of two Arcadia churches as religious hate crimes.
The first incident reportedly took place the evening of Jan. 19 or early morning of Jan. 20 at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 400 West Duarte Road. The suspect(s) forced open a door to the church office, ransacked it, and threw clergy robes on the ground, police said in a written statement. 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.
Meanwhile, shortly after 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, police received a 9-1-1 call from a passerby reporting suspicious activity at Holy Angeles Church, 330 Campus Drive.
Police discovered someone had broken into an administrative building on the church property and lit a small fire in the hallway. The flames burnt papers along with a small area of carpet, Arcadia Police Lt. Tom LeVeque said in a statement.
It appears the suspect(s) broke an office window to gain access to the building, LeVeque said, adding that two religious statues and a DVD player were broken and tossed to the ground inside a small chapel.
An interior officer door was kicked in, police said, and it appeared the suspect(s) also rummaged through several rooms inside the building.
Police say they believe the crimes may be related warned other religious facilities in the area to remain on guard.
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, http://lacrimestoppers.org/
Arcadia Police will hold a joint press conference with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. Check back for updates on this story.