Police in Bakersfield, California, are searching for a suspect who broke into the Chabad Jewish Community Center on August 28.
Jewelry, electronic devices, equipment, credit card machines, and charity boxes filled with donations were stolen, but the Torah scrolls were untouched, said Rabbi Shmuli Schlanger.
“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,” Rabbi Schlanger told KGET-TV.
Rabbi Schlanger said 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,” he said, adding that he believed the 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 told KGET-TV.
In a conversation with KERO-TV, Rabbi Schlanger said there was no one in the building at the time of the break-in, and nobody was hurt.
The Bakersfield Police Department is continuing to investigate this case and is asking for any help the community can offer.
According to a press release on the burglary, the as-yet-unidentified suspect was caught on security camera and is described as a brown-haired Hispanic male who appears to be in his 30s wearing a plaid jacket and blue jeans.
Last month, Los Angeles police launched an investigation after a series of burglaries in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of the city, in which thieves appeared to have targeted several kosher restaurants.
The Los Angeles Police Department said five restaurants were burglarized. The thieves smashed the restaurants' windows and some cash registers were taken.
In January, a kosher ice cream shop in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles was vandalized. The shop had five out of its seven windows shattered beyond repair. Its cash register, containing around $200, was also stolen.
In June of last year, an Israeli restaurant in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles had its door vandalized with a swastika.