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1,000-Pound Statue Of Shiva Stolen From N.J. Hindu Temple

WAYNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A faithless crime committed at a Hindu temple in New Jersey is being investigated as possibly a heist for metal to be sold as scrap.

A sacred statue, worth nearly $10,000 and weighing roughly 1,000 pounds, was somehow stolen.

The congregation of the Gandhi Center & Hindu Temple in Wayne is angry and saddened that its beloved statue of Lord Shiva is gone after it was taken in the middle of the night on the holiest day in Hinduism -- the New Year.

"Very hurt -- my community, everybody is hurt," the temple priest, Arvind Mehta, told CBS 2's Vanessa Murdock on Thursday.

"His status is the highest of highest in the Hindu religion," said Bipin Shukla, the president of the Gandhi Center & Hindu Temple.

The lord of reincarnation used to sit on a red mat just beyond the doors of the temple.

"Why would someone steal something so holy in our religion?" Shukla asked.

The fear is, for money.

"Metal is very expensive and someone might say let's steal the metal," Shukla said.

The stolen statue stands about 4-feet and weighs about 1,000 pounds. Sold for scrap, it's only worth about $400, but in the Hindu religion, it's priceless.

"It's infinity actually for the religious person," Shukla said.

Because of the weight, it's believed at least a few thieves were involved in the heist, police said.

The ground is disturbed where it was likely put down just before being loaded into a vehicle Tuesday night, police said.

The hope now is that it will be brought back safely to the place it has called home for nearly a decade.

"Bring it back, put it in the same place. We won't do anything, we won't harm you," Shukla said.

The congregation will only celebrate the return of its beloved and sacred statue of Lord Shiva.

Wayne Township Police are investigating, but would give no further details.

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