Police seek 2 women caught on video defacing statues at Buddhist temple in Santa Ana

Local news

Investigators are asking the public’s help in identifying two women caught on video earlier this week as they vandalized statues at a Santa Ana Buddhist temple that has repeatedly been the site of similar attacks.

The pair was captured by security cameras Sunday as they spray painted statues in the courtyard of Huong Tich Temple at 4821 W. Fifth St., the Santa Ana Police Department said in a news release.

The timestamp on the surveillance footage released by police indicates the crime took place after 11 p.m.

Police immediately began looking into 51-year-old Trang Pham, who was charged in 2018 in repeated vandalism attacks at Huong Tich and other Buddhist temples across Orange County. But Pham remains in custody, said Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

Investigators do not believe the latest incident is related to Pham, who prosecutors say had a “personal issue” with someone associated with Huong Tich Temple, Bertagna said.

However, the most recent incident is also being investigated as a hate crime.

A total of 15 statues were damaged Sunday, and four of them had the word “Jesus” written on them. The damage amounts to about $6,000, according to the corporal.

Volunteers were in the courtyard Wednesday working to restore the statues, but said they would never be in the same condition as before.

Bertagna said it’s unclear why the women targeted this specific temple.

“What their motive is and why they would pick on them, I don’t know,” he said.

One of the women is seen wearing a blue New England Patriots beanie, a blue jacket, gray sweatpants, and black and white shoes. The other wore a black beanie, black sw sweatshirt, gray sweatpants, and black and white shoes, according to police.

Both had their mouths covered by a mask.

Anyone with information on their whereabouts can contact Detective Wilson at RashadWilson@santa-ana.org or 714-245-8551. Anonymous tips may be submitted via 855-847-6227.

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