Camera catches woman damaging Buddhist temple; police arrest suspect

Santa Ana police make arrest in Buddhist temple vandalism mystery

A woman who was seen on camera damaging statues at a Santa Ana Buddhist temple has been arrested, police said.

It turns out that Trang Thu Pham had a personal gripe with a person connected to the Hoc Tich Buddhist Temple, police said.

“She advised detectives she had no issues or problems with the Buddhist religion,” police said in a statement.

Since mid-December, surveillance footage has captured a woman alleged to be the 45-year-old Pham throwing glass bottles and damaging the statues of Buddha in front of Hong Tich Buddhist Temple in the 4800 block of West 5th Street, according to a statement from the Santa Ana Police Department.

Since Dec. 16, the statues have been desecrated on eight occasions. Police say surveillance video recorded Pham damaging the statues three times, and they believe she may have carried out the other incidents as well.

On Tuesday, a security guard at a CVS store in Costa Mesa recognized Pham’s face from news reports on the vandalism. The guard called police, who arrested Pham and confirmed that she was their suspect.

Pham was booked on suspicion of felony vandalism. She is being held in lieu of $20,000 bail and is due to be arraigned Thursday.

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