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Vandals Target Statues At 2 Vineland Churches

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VINELAND, N.J. -

A church community in New Jersey is rocked to find religious statues vandalized.

But police say the crime did not stop there.

Statues were first found vandalized at Sacred Heart Church on East Landis Avenue during the night.

The church found out about the vandals after one of their parishioners was on his way to mass and went to touch the hands of the statue of Mary like he does before every time he goes to church.

The problem was, those hands weren't there.

A few hours later, police were dispatched Friday to Divine Mercy Parish on West Chestnut Avenue for a similar crime, where four more statues were badly damaged. Authorities believe it happened sometime Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning.

Church leaders feel they were targeted and the vandal knew what they were doing, using a hammer or pipe to deface the statues.

They're going to have them look at next week. But they estimate damages could be up to $10,000.

Church leaders are trying to figure out what would motivate someone to do such a thing.

"We really can't believe it happened. Why someone would be so evil and be so nasty to break something that's on private property, part of our worship community, and what would motivate them to do something so evil?" asked Deacon Richard Sampson, of Good Shepherd Parish.

Police say they are looking through hours of surveillance video, hoping for some sort of lead into who did this.

If you have any information you're asked to contact Vineland police at (856) 696-1212, text an anonymous tip to "VPDTIP" (847411), or use the department's anonymous web tip form by clicking here.

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