The NYPD is looking for three teenagers after they destroyed a statue of an angel outside a church on March 23.
The group was caught on surveillance cameras damaging the sculpture shortly after 10 p.m. in front of Holy Family Church on 74th Ave. near 175th St.
Two of the teens are seen lifting the statue over the church fence as the third recorded them on a smartphone. One of the vandals is then seen running with the angel and smashing it to the ground, causing it to break, surveillance video released by the NYPD shows.
After observing video of one of the teens recording the vandalism and making a mockery of it, Father Sean Suckiel was left wondering if there was more to it.
“Is this linked to the whole TikTok challenge that’s going on out there to destroy schools, bathrooms, and church property and to vandalize things?” Father Suckiel said. “These kids think it’s a joke.”
While bothered by the incident, Father Suckiel wasn’t shocked, noting that two nearby churches had been vandalized over the past several months.
“I was totally upset,” Father Suckiel said. “This has been going on for a while. We know that right down the road, Mary’s Nativity-St. Ann Church was struck months ago. And then St. Nicholas was hit during the Christmas season. It’s just sad.”
The statue, which was acquired by the church a decade ago, is believed to be valued at $500.
“We’re going to find these teenagers who did it,” Father Suckiel said. “We’re going to hold them accountable even though we do believe in forgiveness. I want to assure people that the parish is protected and that we do have security cameras all over the campus.
“There are teenagers out there who think this is funny. It’s really not funny. They’re hurting people,” he added. “They’re hurting parish patrimony. There’s no sense of respect anymore and it needs to stop.”
The incident is being investigated by the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force. Police are asking the public for help identifying the vandals, who they believe to be between 15 and 17 years old.
If anyone has information about the incident, the NYPD is asking that they call the Crime Stoppers hotline at (800) 577-TIPS. All calls will be confidential.