Hillcrest

Shop Owner on Hunt for Stolen Jade Buddha Statue

A jade Buddha was stolen from Tap Lighting in Hillcrest on Valentine's Day, and the owner says the thief can expect lifetime of bad Karma if it's not returned.

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A $300 reward is being offered for the return of a 2-foot jade statue of Buddha stolen from Tap Lighting in Hillcrest on Valentine's Day.

The 50-pound statue was not an easy item to shoplift, but the thief appears to be having an even more difficult time selling it.  

Tammy Packard is not often the target of thieves even after 20 years in business, but she said this Valentine's Day caper was planned, and perhaps orchestrated among several people.

"He came in knowing exactly what he was doing," Packard said.

The security video shows the man was in the store for about 30 seconds. The Buddha statue sat under a fountain inside the shop by the front door.

The man can be seen in the video exiting quickly on his way to Sixth Avenue, struggling to carry his heavy heist.

The Buddha, worth around $25,000 was never for sale, but important to Packard's daily routine.

“It’s just a spiritual thing," she said. "It's believing in a higher power. It’s knowing that Buddha is there to take care of us."

Four days after the burglary, Packard was canvassing the neighborhood with reward posters featuring a picture of the man she said stole her Buddha.

Packard met Tony Knight at Hillcrest Pawn Broker while she was working her case. Unfortunately, she came to the shop just minutes too late.

A man who was in the shop just 45 minutes earlier was offering to sell Knight a jade Buddha. Knight’s security camera captured a photograph of the man.

"He said it was a jade Buddha. I think he said he got from his grandmother or something," Knight said.

Knight declined the sale.

Packard saw the picture of the man and said it looks like her thief.

"It does appear to be the same person because this person is about 5 feet 3 inches tall,” Packard said.

The Buddha is still out there and so are those responsible for its disappearance.

 Caught or not, there is a price to pay for such a crime, Packard said.

“They need to return it because you can't steal a Buddha and not have bad Karma. It's not possible," she said.

Tammy believes the heist is the work of a several people. Last week NBC 7 confirmed a man and woman in their 20s attempted to sell the statue at a different store on Washington Street.

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