2016-06-30
(RNS) In two thefts in less than one week, the Islamic Society of Orange County in Garden Grove, Calif., lost more than $10,000 in worshippers' contributions.

Garden Grove Police Detective Aaron Nelson said police received a report on Sept. 16 of an approximately $8,000 loss at the mosque. During the investigation, police learned of a theft earlier in the week that mosque officials had not reported, Nelson said.

Islamic Society religious director Muzammil Siddiqi said a bank deposit in the amount of $2,700 had been taken Sept. 11 or 12. The next loss was the uncounted collection from Friday's prayer service. Siddiqi estimated the second theft as between $8,000 and $10,000.

"This is the money that the people gave for the mosque expenses," Siddiqi said. While most of the stolen funds were for the mosque's ongoing needs, "some of it was a special charity for poor people," he said. The religious director said the collection had come from individual contributions in small amounts. "Mostly these are working class people."

With 1,500 to 2,000 worshippers typically gathering for Friday prayer, the mosque is Orange County's largest.

While the investigation is ongoing, Nelson said, Garden Grove Police have no suspects. Nelson said police have found nothing to identify the thefts as hate crimes.

Noting that in Islam theft "is a major sin," Siddiqi called the losses "a sad thing." He said the mosque is putting bars outside its windows and installing an alarm. The thefts were the first in the mosque's approximately 30 year history, Siddiqi said.

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