Buddhist temple vandal wanted for stolen statues in Santa Ana

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Police are asking for the public's help in finding a woman accused of snatching three Buddha statues from a temple in Santa Ana.

The woman, identified by police as 46-year-old Trang Pham, is seen on surveillance video taking one statue after another from the Orange County temple, and police think she's the same woman who vandalized another temple in 2015.

Pham is first seen walking up to a display of religious statues. When people walk by, she walks away. A short time later, she comes back, grabs one of the statues and takes off. A couple of minutes later, she returns and takes another.

"These are cherished items to that temple. They cost approximately $1,000 each. We would like to get them their property back," said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna of the Santa Ana Police Department.

The thief doesn't stop at two. A week later, the video shows her coming back and taking the last statue in the middle of the day.

Pham was caught on camera throwing a bottle at a religious statue at a different Buddhist temple last year, and the court sentenced her to 268 days in jail and five years probation.

"She gave the probation department a false address, so based on that, they placed a no-bail warrant out for her arrest," Bertagna said.

The master of the temple did not want to go on camera but said the statues were a gift, and they represent important values to his religion.

Police said Pham is known to hang around in Westminster, Garden Grove or the west end of Santa Ana.

Anyone with information on the crime was asked to call Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS.
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