A Lao Buddhist temple in Phoenix, Arizona was robbed on April 8th by a group of women who entered asking for prayers, reports AZ Central. The women reportedly took $1500 from the Wat Lao Thammaram temple located on 16th and Purdue Avenues.
According to temple member Keoma, a group of 10-12 women came in and one of the women asked a monk to pray for her husband who was in the hospital. While three of the women were receiving prayers from the monk, the other women allegedly went through the temple and rifled through the rooms.
They allegedly stole $500 from a monk in his 80s and $1000 from a monk in his 50s.
According to police, the women restrained one man while they went through the rooms. When another monk came from outside they distracted him by asking for a prayer.
After the women grabbed the money they fled the scene, according to Keoma. When the monks returned to their rooms they discovered their money missing. No monk was injured during the robbery.
“With the rise in Asian hate crimes and especially the elders getting targeted, it kind of hit a lot closer to home now,” Keoma said. “…To rob our temple, especially around Lao New Year, was a really hard blow to a lot of our community.”
Keoma said she heard of other robberies of temples in the area but police could not confirm the other robberies.