A board member of the Islamic Society of Tuscaloosa said their building on Paul Bryant Drive had two safes stolen in the early hours of Tuesday morning, March 14, containing an undisclosed amount of cash that could have been thousands of dollars.
Tuscaloosa police said a suspect entered the building using the security key code.
"We don't know yet what the motivation was," said board member Muhammad Sharif, associate professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Alabama. "It may not be a hate crime. They just took the two safes."
In Gadsden, a donation box was stolen from the Gadsden Islamic Society in the early morning hours of March 10, with an undisclosed amount of money taken, said Gadsden Police Sgt. John Hallman.
"Our detectives are working the case," he said.
They are coordinating with investigators from the Anniston Police Department, he said.
The Anniston Islamic Center was also burglarized in the early hours of March 10.
"It was very similar to the one in Gadsden," said Anniston Police Investigator Thomas Freckman. "There was a donation box that was tampered with."
The amount taken was unknown, he said.
"I believe both had security cameras," Freckman said. "We have video from both places."
The video is not being released at this time, he said.
One of the two safes stolen in Tuscaloosa contained a copy of a Quran that had been donated at the opening of the Islamic Society of Tuscaloosa in 1997, Sharif said. It was an Arabic-language, handwritten copy of the Quran that had sentimental value to the community, he said. "We would be very glad if we can get it back," he said.
Tuscaloosa Police Lt. Teena Richardson said the book was described to investigators as "a valuable artifact."
The Quran was believed to have been from Turkey, but had a library tag from Australia, Sharif said.
"We got it from a businessman who came to our opening in 1997," Sharif said. "He was very excited about it."
Some social media and media reports have wrongly confused the stolen Quran with an English-language translation of the Quran in the University of Alabama archives that was saved from a fire at the end of the Civil War.
"It's not that one," Sharif said.
Ashfaq Taufique, president of the Birmingham Islamic Society, said he hopes the three separate burglaries were not part of a conspiracy of hatred toward the Muslim community.