'How long does it take?' Montreal Muslims say serial mosque thief should be easy to catch
MONTREAL -- Montreal’s Muslim community is on edge after little progress on the string of mosque break-ins that picked up speed this week with two back to back.
Before the recent thefts at mosques in Brossard and Pierrefonds, an earlier one in downtown Montreal offered police a good chance of solving the case, says a man who was present.
“The police took my testimony,” Tariq Khan recalls, after the AlSalam mosque on Stanley St. was broken into in early October.
“While I was giving my written witness statement, I saw the guy being released. He lit up a cigarette. Walked up right to me, smiled at my face.”
In that case, a thief broke in and stole money from the mosque’s donation box, Khan says, which is also what happened in Brossard, this Saturday, and Pierrefonds, two days later.
Loss of money aside, the incident is very upsetting in other ways, said Foudil Selmoune, the imam at the Islamic Community Centre in Brossard.
“It is very sad to see a person attacking the mosques,” Selmoune said.
“We know that the mosque is a place of worship, a place where the mosque helps other people who are in need.”
Khan, who volunteers at the AlSalam mosque, says he’s seen footage from his own mosque’s break-in and the one in Brossard and is sure it’s the same person—the man who was arrested in the downtown case, according to Khan, and then released.
“He was not covering his face; he was wearing the same clothes,” said Khan. “Same height, same face.”
For police, he asked, “how long does it take” to put the pieces together?
Police told CTV this week that the suspect in the Pierrefonds case couldn’t be seen clearly on surveillance footage because his face was covered with a mask and hooded sweatshirt.
Khan said the problem is the amount of effort police are putting in.
“They need to connect the dots. The evidence is there—they know who it is,” he said. “We need a little bit more willingness from the police.”
The cases fall under two police jurisdictions. On Friday, Longueuil police wouldn’t link the Brossard break-in to the others.
Montreal police said they're still working on the case and added that they will only be able to determine if these cases are linked at the end of their investigation.