BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Jewelry, electronic devices, equipment, credit card machines, and even charity boxes filled with donations all gone after a thief ransacked the Chabad of Bakersfield on Wednesday.
“Immediately, my heart dropped as I ran for the synagogue to go to the ark where we keep our sacred Torah scrolls. We have two sacred Torah scrolls,” said Rabbi Shmuel Schlanger.
Schlanger says the scrolls contain 600,000 letters transcribed by hand taking over a year to write making them priceless. “It’s the most valuable religious item, but not just valuable monetary wise, but in sacredness,” said Schlanger.
Now, with the Jewish holidays fast approaching Rabbi Schlanger wants the community to understand more than ever, this theft was not motivated by hate.
“This was not a targeted hate crime on the Jewish community. This is a problem in the community with rampant amounts of theft,” he said.
Rabbi Schlanger says he’s going to beef up security with a new alarm system, new Ring cameras, more secure doors with better locks, and 25 feet of more fencing since the thief was able to scale a 9-foot wall at a site that already has at least a dozen cameras.
Schlanger told 17 News he discontinued a security service just days before the robbery. “It could very well be that somebody knows somebody that knows somebody that gave this guy, this individual a heads up,” said Schlanger.
At the end of the day, Rabbi Schlanger says he’s thankful for the solidarity and support of the Bakersfield community. He also wants to share a message for the man who shattered the glass door and ransacked the rooms of a synagogue.
“If you’re gonna break into a synagogue take a Bible with you,” said Rabbi Schlanger. “Take two if you have a buddy that you think needs one too. And there it will teach you to be guided in life. That God will provide without having to steal.”
The Bakersfield Police Department wants your help identifying the suspect. Authorities say he’s a man in his 30s with brown hair last seen wearing a plaid jacket and blue jeans. If you have any information call the Bakersfield Police Department at 661-327-7111, or contact Detective R. Garcia at 661-326-3555.
If you’d like to help the Chabad of Bakersfield Jewish Community Center click here.