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Lakeland, Florida-- Lakeland Police are currently looking for a man who attempted to steal donation boxes from a local Islamic Center earlier this month.

According to reports, the suspect knocked on the door of the Lakeland Islamic Center off Blossom Circle S around 4 p.m. on February 8 to pray.

A parishioner who let the man in, and prayed with him, told officials the suspect was very knowledgeable in Islamic prayer, as he took off his shoes each time he entered the building, prayed the correct prayer for that time of day and performed all the rituals correctly.

After prayer, the parishioner reportedly walked the man out, and followed standard procedure of providing him with the door code so that he could pray at the center another time.

Reports say both men left, but it wasn't long before the suspect returned.

Using the code to gain access to the building, the man then tried usingbolt cutters, a chisel and hammer and a crow bar toremove donation boxes, or pry them open. And when those didn't work, he reportedly used a wire to fish an envelope out of one of the boxes.

The parishioner told officials the suspect did not look of Arabic decent, but more American.

He has been described as follows:

  • White male
  • 40-45 years old
  • 5'10"-6'
  • 190-220 lbs
  • Short dirty blonde hair and a goatee
  • Wearing a button down maroon shirt, blue jeans and black and white sneakers
  • Driving a maroon or red full sized Chevrolet pickup extended cab with a silver stripe on the bottom. The vehicle had tinted windows and white decal streaks on the sides.

The suspect reportedly told the parishioner that he was not from the area, and that he was just passing through Lakeland.

Officials ask anyone with identifying information on the suspect to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-8477.

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