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Religious artifacts and equipment stolen from Chabad Jewish center of USC

A suspect was recorded in security footage taking several items from the Rohr Chabad Jewish Center at the University of Southern California on early Wednesday morning.
(Dov Wagner, courtesy of Rohr Chabad Jewish Center at USC)

Rabbi Dov Wagner walked into work at the Rohr Chabad Jewish Center at USC and immediately realized he was dealing with a burglary.

Early Wednesday morning, someone found their way inside the center and stole $8,000 to $10,000 worth of equipment and religious artifacts, according to police and center officials.

The items taken included a computer, video projectors and three pairs of tefillin — sets of small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah.

Wagner, the director of the Chabad center, said workers at the center reported tools missing, while Wagner discovered that a desktop computer in the office was missing as well. When he checked the security camera for answers, he got one.

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“There was a man who entered the property around midnight and spent some time in the house,” Wagner said. “He leaves a little before 2 a.m. and then comes back about 4:50 a.m. and loads everything he’s collected from the house into his car. He picks up everything and leaves in around 20 minutes.”

The suspect also took all the keys in the house, which prompted Wagner, 40, to change all the locks, including the ones leading to the laundry room.

“The guy went through the house completely,” Wagner said. “He was very organized. He had everything waiting in the back door in laundry baskets and a garbage can full of things.”

The Chabad center is a popular place for USC students to spend time at, Wagner said. The center is visited by about 200 students every week.

Wagner said he didn’t recognize the suspect in the security footage and he hasn’t been able to determine how the thief broke in.

A GoFundMe page was created by USC alumni and students to replace the items stolen. More than $900 has been raised so far.

“The silver lining has been to see the support,” Wagner said. “We’re trying to provide a safe place for students to come. Right now, we’re feeling the violation. We’re hopeful we’ll be able to come back stronger than ever.”

The Los Angeles Police Department’s Southwest Station is investigating the burglary. Anyone with information about the incident can call Detective Potter at (213) 485-2582.

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alexia.fernandez@latimes.com

Twitter: @alexiafedz


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