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Man arrested in Volusia County Islam center burglaries

Video caught man prying donation box off wall, deputies say

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Investigators have arrested a man who was caught on camera stealing donations from central Florida Islamic centers.

Friday, people packed into the Islamic Center of Deltona for prayers during Ramadan were also praying that he doesn't strike again.

He was caught on camera struggling for 10 minutes to rip the donation box off the wall, leaving with several hundred dollars in cash collected for the holy month.

Deputies think Basem Elghazal, 27, has targeted at least two Islamic centers in the area. He's stolen donations from one Islamic center on Summerhaven Drive in DeBary and another on Keech Street in Daytona Beach, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said.

It appears Elghazal knows the religion and its practices. He is seen shoeless on security video, having removed his shoes before entering the prayer room.

"It's pretty shameful that he had to come to that level to do it, because if he were to ask for help, being a Muslim or even just a person that needs help, we would be glad to help him," Mohammad Shakil said. "He doesn't have to go and steal."

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It turns out he was there the day before, asked for money and got it.

"He had been collecting money from people, asking for help. Apparently that was not enough, so he had to come back Saturday and clean out the box," said Shakil. "He went straight to the third floor, where he had seen on Friday the donation box."

The crime has left many to wonder who would steal from people who freely give.

"It would be very simple to come in and ask for help. He wouldn't have to commit a crime, steal. If he needs help from us, we'll be there to help him," said Shakil.

Elghazal is in custody at Volusia County jail on $5,000 bond.