Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Temple happy to learn about return of urn

Thieves made off with sacred item but it's been found

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A Winnipeg Buddhist temple no longer needs to yearn for its urn.

The community is happy about its return.

The 136-kilogram (300 pounds) urn that was stolen from Huasing Buddhist temple will be returned after police found it Thursday afternoon.

The urn, which is used for incense ceremonies, was removed from its location at the front of the temple on Cumberland Avenue and carried away late Monday around 11:30 p.m.

The urn was important to the temple congregation, said Suzanne Chan, a temple volunteer.

"It's a symbol of the temple," Chan said.

The temple manager called Tuesday morning to tell her the urn was gone. Chan said she was upset and terrified when she heard the news.

"I can't express it. Why on earth do people not respect our religion?" she asked.

The temple has video cameras, but it was too dark to recognize anything beyond a smudgy figure, Chan said.

However a neighbour, who asked to only be identified by his first name, Hugh, caught the act on video. Hugh manages a building across the street from the temple, and has video surveillance set up around it.

In the video, a figure can be seen dragging the urn across the road, away from the temple. Pedestrians walk by but don't stop or acknowledge the figure. After crossing the road, the figure sits down to rest on the urn, and waits for about 10 minutes before an SUV drives up. The occupant of the SUV and the initial thief then load the urn into the vehicle and drive off.

Hugh has lived in the neighbourhood for about 14 years and said he's seen many things caught on tape, but never something like this. He said he's disgusted with the person who stole the urn.

"You don't have any morals or respect doing that at a temple. I don't care how desperate you are, you don't do that to a temple," he said.

Chan said she's happy to hear the urn will be returned, but worried about its condition.

"I was told it's already been taken apart. And we'll have to polish it. (We might) need a new one, or we might just fix that one," she said.

No arrests had been announced as of press time Thursday.

oliver.sachgau@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 25, 2014 B6

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