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Local Buddhist Temple Robbed of Cash and Gold


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Local Buddhist Temple Robbed of Cash and Gold

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News Brief by Matthew Kincanon | FāVS News

Correction: The date of robbery was incorrect in the first version of this story and has been updated.

On Sunday afternoon, Aug. 13, the Buddhist Institute of Universal Compassion Foundation in Spokane was robbed by a group of masked individuals who stole thousands of dollars from the temple.

On their Facebook page, the temple said the robbery occurred when two women approached them asking for help with prayer inside the temple. While this was happening, outside, another woman unsuccessfully attempted to break into the onsite residence next door.

An hour later, the women returned and carried out the robbery.

buddhist temple robbery spokane
Another image of the women identified by the Buddhist Institute of Universal Compassion Please as those who stole from them. This one with a time stamp. / Contributed

Malia Ethredge, communications coordinator and media manager at the temple, said the thieves stole around $6,000 in cash and gold from the temple. No statues or relics were taken in the robbery.

“We’re a small temple, we’re a very humble community and we don’t have a lot of funds,” she said. “That’s everything we had, and we were saving for a new heating and cooling system. We don’t have one in the building at all, so on these hot days it’s very hot. Cold days it’s very cold.”

Despite a window being damaged, no one was injured in the robbery.

Thieves Possible Part of a Ring Targeting Temples

Ethredge believes the thieves are part of a ring that has been targeting temples and Asian establishments in the U.S. She added that this is believed to be the same alleged group that robbed the temple of over $30,000 last year.

The thieves’ tactics involve one group going to a monk or nun in the temple and asking for prayers for a sick relative. While the monk or nun is distracted, Ethredge said another group would rob the residence and temple. 

A reason Ethredge provided for temples being targeted is because those who work there are nonviolent, which makes them easy targets.

Due to the thieves wearing masks and hijabs, members of the temple said it has been difficult to identify them.

“We humbly request that anyone with any information about these individuals come forward and share it with the authorities,” the temple said in a Facebook post. “We hope to bring these individuals to justice and ensure the continued safety of our temple and community.”

The temple will be holding a yard sale fundraiser this weekend where they will be selling electronics, vintage furniture, clothes and more.

The fundraiser will be held from Aug. 18, to Aug. 19, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The surveillance footage of the alleged robbers can be found on the temple’s Facebook page.

Matthew Kincanon
Matthew Kincanon
Matthew Kincanon is a communications coordinator with a journalism and political science degree from Gonzaga University. His journalism experience includes the Gonzaga Bulletin, The Spokesman-Review, Art Chowder, Trending Northwest, Religion Unplugged and FāVS News. He loves being a freelancer for FāVS because, having been born and raised in Spokane, he wants to learn more about the various religious communities and cultures in his hometown, especially Indigenous communities.

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