Police Searching for Man Who Broke Into Beverly Hills Synagogue and Ransacked It

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Authorities are searching for the man who broke into a Beverly Hills synagogue Saturday and heavily ransacked it, damaging important relics in what is being investigated as a hate crime, police said in a news release.

A man suspected of ransacking a Beverly Hills synagogue is seen on surveillance video on Dec. 14, 2019. (Credit: Beverly Hills police)
A man suspected of ransacking a Beverly Hills synagogue is seen on surveillance video on Dec. 14, 2019. (Credit: Beverly Hills police)

An employee at the Nessah Synagogue on142 S. Rexford Dr. arrived at about 7 a.m. to find the door open and the synagogue vandalized.

Officers called to the scene found furniture flipped over and brochures and other items scattered across the synagogue, the Beverly Hills Police Department said.

An investigation found that a man had walked through the streets during the early morning hours committing “a series of minor vandalisms” before he forced his way into the synagogue and vandalized it.

“The suspect damaged several Jewish relics, but fortunately the Synagogue’s main scrolls survived unscathed,” police said.

There was a Torah with damage to its pages and scrolls that were undone, Beverly Hills police Lt. Elisabeth Albanese said.

Officers also found an image of a heart at the synagogue that was created with some unidentified material, according to Albanese.

“Although police are investigating the crime as a hate crime, the suspect left no markings or other overt signs of anti-Semitism,” the department said in the news release.

Nothing was stolen from the synagogue and no one was there during the ransacking, police said.

Officers were helping with clean-up efforts and providing additional patrols throughout the area.

The suspect was described as being a white man between 20 to 25 years of age, with short dark curly hair and a thin build. He was last seen wearing prescription glasses, shorts, low top shoes, carrying a backpack and pulling a rolling suitcase.

The mayor of Beverly Hills called the ransacking an attack on the community.

“This cowardly attack hits at the heart of who we are as a community,” Mayor John Mirisch said in a written statement. “It is not just an attack on the Jewish Community of Beverly Hills; it’s an attack on all of us. The entire City stands in solidarity behind Nessah, its members and congregants.”

Police said “significant efforts” are underway to identify and locate the person responsible.

“We are committed to catching the criminal who desecrated a holy place on Shabbat of all days and bringing him to justice,” the mayor said. “We are equally committed that our City will continue to be a welcoming place for Jews and for members of all religions and groups.”

The Synagogue is expected to reopen Sunday.

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