Mosque burglarized twice this month
September 26, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | email@example.com
HAGERSTOWN — A ranking member of the Islamic Society of Western Maryland said there have been two burglaries at the mosque this month.
Ali Shafi, a member of the mosque’s board of trustees, said the first burglary was Sept. 12 and the second was early Monday.
He said he hopes that a recent string of burglaries at the center won’t lead to something more sinister.
“I’m afraid it could turn violent,” Shafi said in an interview Monday at the mosque at 2036 Day Road.
He said he did not want to blow the incident out of proportion, but he did not rule out the possibility it was a hate crime.
Zachary Lee Hardy, 18, of 36 Nottingham Road in Hagerstown, was charged earlier this month with breaking into the mosque on Sept. 12, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said.
Sheriff Douglas Mullendore said deputies were in the process of investigating the burglary that occurred Monday.
“There were some items that were disturbed and several items that were broken,” Mullendore said. “Other than that, I don’t have any further information.”
Mullendore said he doubted that the recent burglaries were hate crimes, which generally involve derogatory graffiti or the desecration of religious materials, such as the Quran.
“At this point, there’s no way to say it was a hate crime,” Mullendore said.
Shafi said he wasn’t sure whether the burglar on Monday broke into the office at the front of the complex, or into the abutting mosque at the rear. Several windows showed signs that someone tried to enter through them.
He said an imam noticed something was wrong when he entered the building to pray at 5:30 a.m.
A security camera and about $200 in cash were stolen, Shafi said. The burglar also damaged a bookshelf in the prayer center.
Shafi said the intruder stole about $1,000 during the incident on Sept. 12. He said the mosque, which has about 150 members and serves the Tri-State area, was collecting the money to help the needy during Eid ul-Fitr, a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.
Shafi said three serious crimes have occurred at the mosque since he began worshipping there 26 years ago. He said he was concerned that two of those crimes happened within the last two weeks.
“We try to be the best for our neighbors,” he said. “We are a very peaceful community.”
Anyone with information may call the sheriff’s office at 240-313-2172.
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