Amsterdam Police investigate theft of Buddha statues

| September 21, 2010

Amsterdam Police are investigating a case of stolen statues from a Buddhist temple being set up in a former Catholic church in the city.

Members of the group discovered the items were missing after they'd been away for a few days, and they are hoping someone them can help get back the things they say are priceless to them.

They’re also hoping the thieves get what’s coming to them for violating their space.

The altar at the 5 Buddha Temple on East Main Street in Amsterdam looks very similar to when it was St. Casimir's Catholic Church, something the Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization did on purpose out of respect while they try to help make people healthier through Eastern methods.

Jennie Wong, World Peace and Health Organization member, says, “It is inside healing both from the physical body and also your spiritual mind.”

But Jennie Wong's body and spirit were hurt when she and some other group members returned from a business trip on Sunday, and first found missing copper piping from the temple and some other buildings they own nearby, then found 8 Buddha statues missing, including a priceless antique one shipped here from Hong Kong.

Wong says the statue is so heavy, it would take three men to be able to lift it and carry it out of the building.

“It's priceless,” says Wong. “It's priceless in terms of its historical value, its religious value, and also its artistic value. Shock and very sad. Very upset.”

With Jennie Wong interpreting for him, the group's leader, Master Ziguang Shang Shi, told FOX23’s Walt McClure it is unfortunate this happened at such a happy time for them, and despite the openness of many in Amsterdam, he worries what these few bad apples will do to the city.

“They are going to destroy the friendship, the stability and the peace of this city,” says Master Ziguang Shang Shi.

Jennie Wong says these items are too obvious to easily unload, and that the thieves won't get away with this, legally or spiritually.

Wong says, “When the people, they are stolen the Buddha statue away, it will have very bad kharma, very bad things.”

Jennie Wong and Master Ziguang Shang Shi say they have the utmost confidence that Amsterdam Police will solve this case, and they hope the public will offer any tips to help make that happen.

A police department spokesman says they are following up on some leads on this case, and other recent copper thefts in the city.

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