Thousands of dollars stolen in burglary at Buddhist temple

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Police in Virginia Beach hope you might recognize the criminals caught in surveillance tape stealing thousands from a group of Buddhist monks.

The crime happened in the early morning hours of April 19 at the Dong Hung Buddhist Temple on Davis Street.

“Buddhism is known as being a very passive, a gentle religion,” said temple member Mary Sullivan. “It could be some people misinterpret that as being an easy place to target.”

In the video, two people are seen entering the temple from a back door that was locked. They approach a large wooden structure known as a donation table, lift it up and carry it out a side door. Once outside, the two men load the donation table into the trunk of a sedan and drive off.

An estimated $4,000 to $5,000 was inside the table.

“Basically, it’s not only the sustenance of the temple, but it’s the monks’ day-to-day living expenses –Their electricity, groceries,” Sullivan explained.

The temple has no other revenue stream. It relies entirely on donations.

This isn’t the only crime in recent months at the temple.

In November, someone entered the then unlocked temple in the middle of the day and tampered with the same donation table, according to police. And in December and March, members were robbed in the parking lot.

Police could not say right now if any of the crimes are related, but they hope the surveillance video will help track down those responsible.

“The monks of course do feel compassion for them. They want to help them. They want them to see what they’re doing will eventually come back to them in a negative way,” Sullivan said.

She added that there’s still room for forgiveness.

“I guess as Buddhism teaches, we’re all going to make mistakes in life. We’re all going to make errors. But we also always have a chance to turn around.”

If you can help identify the people in the video, call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.