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Caught on camera: Burglary at Islamic Center

Published On: Feb 25 2013 07:00:00 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 26 2013 01:26:46 PM EST

Caught on camera: Burglary at Islamic Center


A thief took off his shoes in order to burglarize a well-known mosque in Reading, police said.

The criminal managed to steal a safe full of donations from the Islamic Center of Reading, located near Noble Street and Lancaster Avenue, around 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 16, investigators said.

"It's very heartbreaking, in the sense that this can happen any time and it's dangerous," said Mahmood Magid, the center's treasurer.


Security cameras captured a man, who is about 40-years-old, entering the mosque, according to police. He even removed his shoes.

"He could have taken the shoes off in case anyone came in during the offense, then he could have told them that he was there to pray," said Sgt. John Solecki, Reading Police Dept.

Surveillance footage shows the criminal tried several times to move the safe full of donations but failed because the safe was bolted to the floor.

The surveillance video then shows the man leaving the mosque and going to the parking lot, where he grabbed a crowbar from a 2005, or later model, Dodge Dakota, police said.

After he managed to pry the safe from the floor, the thief hauled the more than 100-pound safe through the front door.


In the face of such cruelty, worshipers at the Islamic Center indicated they still have compassion, but it comes at a price.

"If our God says we can forgive anybody, we can forgive this person, too. But he still has to pay the price," Magid said.

Officials couldn't say how much money was stolen because it hadn't even been counted yet.

The donations were supposed to pay for utility bills and help fund the Sunday school program, officials said.

If you have any information about the crime, you can call Crime Alert Berks County, anonymously. The number is 877-373-9913. Information leading to an arrest could earn you a cash reward.