"We didn't know until next morning when the brothers came into the mosque, they noticed some of the money was on the floor," said the secretary for the Fiji Jamaat Ul-Islam mosque in South San Francisco. "It's sad that this is happening because we feel like we could help this brother out."
Commonly referred to as the Fiji Mosque, it has been part of the community since the 1970s when it was founded by immigrants originally from the Fiji Islands.
Two recent burglaries appear to be by the same person, according to members of the mosque. They shared surveillance video showing a man walking around the building and accessing donation boxes.
"This sounds like more of a serial burglar that's going around targeting specific mosques," said the secretary, known as "Brother Dau'd" by the community.
He contacted other mosque leaders and quickly learned that others in the Bay Area had experienced similar crimes.
Leaders with the Fiji Mosque believe the suspect had to jump over a fence to steal an unknown amount of cash from their donation boxes.
The timing of the most recent burglary on May 3 happened right after Ramadan and during the celebration of Eid. Muslims are taught to donate during the holy month with that act of charity expected to go to people in need around the world. They believe the suspect is someone from their community who may have worshipped at the mosque in the past.
"I was shocked, I was saddened, I immediately thought of the community and all of the many community members who spend and give their hard-earned money in donations," said Shahbaz Shaikh, the resident scholar for the Islamic Center of San Francisco.
Shaikh's mosque has not recently been the victim of thefts but Shaikh has helped to coordinate a response among other community leaders. He says at least four mosques have reported stolen donations this year.
"We all personally feel affected even if one mosque was attacked in this way," he told KPIX. "A person would have to have knowledge of all these things -- specifically target these mosques at these times in this month."
South San Francisco police told KPIX on Friday they are investigating the case at the Fiji Mosque and believe it is connected to another burglary in a nearby city. Mosques have increased their security measures after these burglaries and their leaders are asking people to report any additional crimes to police.
"We want to make sure all that all the mosques are talking to each other. We communicate with each other, we want to make sure we have a game plan to capture the suspect or at least help the suspect out," Dau'd said.
Source: CBS News