SACRAMENTO, CA - A rare, historic artifact is missing from the Kim Quang Buddhist Temple and members believe it may be the work of copper thieves.
Members said thieves stole an incense holder, which has cultural and religious significance in Buddhist practice. The piece was made of copper and weighed 1,000 pounds.
PHOTOS: Artifact stolen from Buddhist temple
Members said the incense holder was stolen from the temple, located on the 3100 block of Alta Arden Expressway, last Thursday morning. They believe more than one person stole the item because of its weight.
Temple members believe thieves used a cart on the property to remove the artifact, brought it to the fence line, broke the fence, then put it in another cart and loaded it onto a vehicle.
A neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said he heard a noise and saw a man walking with the cart around 5 a.m. Thursday, he but did not have a description of the alleged thief or vehicle.
The incense holder costs $15,000, but to those who worship at the temple the value is priceless.
"Everything, actually, on these temple grounds is purchased with money that was donated by the community who comes here to the temple so it affects every member of this community when something is taken," Simone Brinkmann-Robinson said.
Members said the copper incense holder arrived at the temple about 10 years ago and is the only one of its kind. It was part of a cultural festival in Vietnam and would normally be placed in a museum, but members of the Sacramento temple donated money to buy it and bring it to California from Vietnam.
Members said about a month ago thieves stole other parts of the copper incense holder during two separate incidents, but last week the entire piece was stolen.