A 46-year-old woman suspected of stealing statues from a Buddhist temple was arrested by police in Santa Ana.
Trang Thu Pham was located in the 900 block of South Harbor Boulevard and initially arrested on a probation violation. Pham was being held without bail on the probation warrant, according to Santa Ana Police spokesman Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.
Pham was then interviewed by Santa Ana police detectives regarding the theft of the statutes and was arrested and booked on two counts of grand theft.
The two statues, valued at around $1,000 apiece, were stolen Feb. 26 from the Chua Truc Lam Yen Tu Buddhist Temple at 1924 W. Second St., according to Santa Ana police.
The suspect, later identified as Pham, stole two of the 2-foot-tall statues from a shrine adjacent to the sidewalk in front of the temple, police said. The theft was captured by a surveillance camera.
Pham is also suspected of returning to the temple on March 6 and taking a third statue, police said.
Representatives of the temple viewed the surveillance video for law enforcement, according to Santa Ana police.
“After viewing surveillance video, the victim” — the temple and its representatives — “recognized the suspect as the same suspect that was arrested in 2015 for vandalizing another temple,” according to a police statement.
“The victim remembered the media coverage from the previous incident and searched the Internet for the story.”
The victim found a booking photo of the suspect — who had been arrested on January 13, 2015 — and identified her as the suspect in the statue thefts, police said.
“Trang Thu Pham was convicted of vandalizing a place of worship and sentenced to 268 days in jail and was placed on five years formal probation,” police said. “Pham never reported to the probation department and she currently has a no bail warrant for a probation violation.”
Anyone with information on these statute thefts was asked to call Santa Ana police Detective Alfredo Castro at (714) 245-8345. Anonymous tips can be supplied by calling Orange County Crime Stoppers at (855) TIPS-OCCS.
— From Staff and Wire Reports
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