Tauranga Mosque has been burgled and a car parked outside the building torched, leaving some in its community upset and worried.
Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Rawlinson, the head of Tauranga CIB, told the Bay of Plenty Times the mosque on 18th Ave was broken into around 6.40pm on Monday.
He said clothing and electronic equipment were stolen.
"How the burglar gained access is still being investigated but an internal door was also damaged," he said.
Later that night, about 2am, a Nissan X-Trail parked on the roadside near the mosque was set alight and burned out.
"It is unclear at this stage whether the two incidents are connected and our inquiries are continuing," Rawlinson said.
Rawlinson would not disclose details of the electronics stolen.
"While there was no evidence to suggest this was a hate crime or connected to what was happening in Christchurch yesterday, we are treating these incidents very seriously."
Yesterday, the selflessness and sacrifice of nine people who risked their lives to save others during the Christchurch terror attack in 2019 were honoured at a special awards ceremony.
Rawlinson said a team from the Tauranga South Tactical Crime Unit was investigating the incidents at the Tauranga mosque.
"We are also doing all we can to support the members of the mosque to make sure people are safe to worship there."
He urged anyone in the area of the mosque at those times or who has any information that would assist the inquiry team to contact the police immediately.
Tauranga Mosque Imam Ahmed Ghoneim said the incident was upsetting for its members, including the person whose car was burnt out.
"But this is not the first time our mosque had been broken into or had items stolen ... On this occasion, it seems the person who broke in may have been drunk or on drugs."
He said he discovered the break-in when he arrived for prayers at about 6.40pm and saw another member's car backing down the driveway "very fast".
"The member told me that when he arrived about 10 minutes earlier and went inside the mosque the lights were all on and there was a man sitting inside our prayer area putting items inside a bag," he said.
Ghoneim said the member was scared but confronted the burglar and the man seemed "out of it" and possibly drunk or on drugs.
"By the time I got inside I think the man had fled possibly out the back door, and I called the police and they were here within 10 minutes and started looking for the burglar.
"We are still trying to find out how this person managed to get inside the mosque because there were no broken windows, but there was some damage to one internal door."
He did not want to say what items were taken in the burglary.
Ghoneim said the burnt-out car was a member's personal vehicle which had been parked on the roadside for about 20 days. The owner was naturally "upset".
"Lots of people are upset but I have not taken this matter to heart as it has not been the first time someone has stolen from our mosque and sometimes it's been kids who tell us they won't do it again.
"We are also not the only place of worship that has been broken into from time to time.
"Lots of members are a bit worried so the police were turning up to prayers five times a day at the moment and we have also had a lot of great support from the community."
He said it was "far too early in the investigation" to say whether this was a hate crime.
"We are leaving the matter in the hands of the police to investigate."
He urged anyone with information about either of these incidents to contact the police.