Woman caught on video toppling 15-foot crucifix in Northern California church

Police arrested a 23-year-old woman after she was caught on video pushing a crucifix to the floor and destroying other items in a Northern California church, authorities said.

Jackeline Chavira was booked into a Santa Cruz County jail on suspicion of vandalizing a place of worship, defacing property, burglary and disobeying a court order, the Watsonville Police Department said.

Police said Chavira’s rampage began at 11:40 a.m. Wednesday when she entered a Watsonville store and stole some roses. About 20 minutes later, she allegedly went into another store on the same street and broke a religious statue, then stopped at a bakery and stole a soda.


Finally, about 12:15 p.m., the woman allegedly entered St. Patrick’s Church on Main Street, where authorities said she caused the most damage. Surveillance footage shows her walking toward the altar, looking behind and around her as she approached the crucifix.

Jackeline Chavira
(Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office)

The video shows her setting down what appears to be a rose before pushing the 15-foot crucifix to the floor, causing the figure of Christ to come loose, and running off. Watsonville police said the incident caused $15,000 in damage.

After smashing the crucifix, officials said, Chavira ran next door to a prayer room, where she threw another religious statue on the ground and ripped down two large pieces of art. Parishioners were in the room at the time.


She then visited another store on Main Street, where she stole another religious statue and smashed it on the ground, police said.

She was arrested soon after and is being held in lieu of $25,000 bail.

Twitter: @r_valejandra

Get our Essential California newsletter