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It’s a time of celebration at the Chinese Buddhist Association as it celebrates its 60th anniversary.
But things quickly turned dim Tuesday morning when money from the bags of seven visiting monks was stolen.
The temple says this man seen in its surveillance video came in and offered to help the abbot.
“As he was coming out of the library, dragging two chairs under his arm, this man approached him and said ‘oh I can help you,'” said Jeanne Lum, president of the Chinese Buddhist Association.
Lum says the man brought the chairs into the dining hall and then left.
“The abbott sat down for lunch. He didn’t realize that the man would go back up into the library,” said Lum.
Which is where the monks left their bags.
The only person on watch was an elderly volunteer at the library’s entrance.
“But because he saw the man helping the abbott, he figured, oh the man’s coming back to get more chairs so he didn’t question him,” said Lum.
With their guards let down, the man was gone in only a matter of minutes, and according to the monks, so was their cash.
“A few minutes, he take all the money… $50,000,” Ru said.
Ru also said the man took thousands of Chinese currency.
“The money is not important. maybe he needed it, maybe the man needed it for medical bills and we don’t need it so that’s the way we’re trying to look at it,” said Lum.
But Lum says that if that isn’t the case, “I’m hoping that he’ll get caught so that other people don’t have to suffer this feeling that we’re going through.”
The temple says they are beefing up security and purchasing additional cameras.
Honolulu police have opened a theft case.
If you have any information, call HPD.