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Armed men rob California gurudwara donation box

Wednesday, 30 January 2013 - 12:45pm IST | Place: Washington | Agency: PTI

Mayor Pro Tem Gurpal Samra classified the Sunday incident, wherein three men looted the donation box inside the complex, as 'very disturbing'.

Armed men barged into a Gurudwara in California city and took away the money from a donation box kept inside the complex, police said here. According to the local Livingston police in California, three robbers entered the Gurudwara through the front door early on Sunday morning.

While one of the men was armed with a gun, the other was carrying a knife. The third robber was unarmed. The three men took a few thousand dollars from a donation box and left through a side door, joining two other men who were waiting outside, local newspaper Merced Sunstar quoted police as saying on Tuesday.

North American Punjabi Association (NAPA) president Satnam Singh Chahal also that the three men took money from the donation box and left through a side door.

Police Chief Ruben Chavez said all of the men were wearing hooded jackets or sweatshirts, concealing their identities. Police are searching for three unidentified men.

Chavez said while money has been stolen from the donation box before, it's the first robbery that he knows of at the Gurudwara. "This is more brazen because they did come in armed. Obviously it's someone who knew the temple because they knew where to go," he was quoted as saying.

"We're looking at different angles, and we will do our best to get to the bottom of it. We really want to identify who they are," Chavez said.

Sikhs make up nearly 20% of Livingston's population. In August, a Wisconsin shooting rampage at a Sikh Gurudwara left seven people dead. Mayor Pro Tem Gurpal Samra, who worships at both of the city's Sikh Gurudwaras, classified Sunday's robbery as "very disturbing". "I was in Fresno when I got the call," Samra said. "The first thing that flashed in my mind was Wisconsin, right away."

The Wisconsin incident was one of the reasons officials at the temple had surveillance cameras installed, said Narinder Dola, vice president of the temple.

Three person, including a woman, were present inside the Gurudwara at the time of incident. Dola was glad those inside the Gurudwara didn't confront the robbers. "I think they did the smart move, they didn't do anything, they just kept quiet."

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