Courts & Crime

Houses of worship fall victim to California vandals

Last Modified: Monday, Jan. 25, 2010 - 9:25 amFor 60 years, statues of the Virgin Mary, St. John and Mary Magdalene stood outside Holy Rosary Church in Woodland. Parishioners placed flowers in front of them, took pictures there after first Holy Communion.

Last month, the church became another target of crime, when vandals attacked the statues and the serenity of sanctuary.

Houses of worship, traditional retreats from the outside, are dealing with the worldly problems of vandalism – from graffiti to broken statues to replacing doors ridden with bullet holes.

Local congregations have long struggled with the problem. But the recent crimes come as most congregations are seeing donations drop – and as they really don't need the added expense of hiring security or fixing a broken stained-glass window.

"Why would anyone do this to a church?" asked Sandy Haynes, business manager for Holy Rosary.

Mary was beyond repair, and was left knocked over in front of the crucifix. The other two figures were damaged. It was the latest in a string of acts of vandalism to hit the Catholic parish.

"The people who would do this have no respect for God," said Juanita Mendoza, a parishioner for 20 years.

From a mosque in West Sacramento to a synagogue in Carmichael, no religious denomination is immune.

During the past two years, houses of worship in Sacramento, Rancho Cordova, Roseville, Elk Grove and unincorporated Sacramento County were vandalized 122 times, causing tens of thousands of dollars of damage, according to a Bee analysis of law enforcement and business records.

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