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6 arrested in northwest Arkansas Vietnamese Buddhist temple robbery

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Six people were arrested in connection with a burglary at a northwest Arkansas Vietnamese Buddhist temple, and detectives believe it could be connected to similar burglaries in other states.

According to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, a home invasion happened in the 10000 block of Lakeside Drive in Rogers on April 20. The home also serves as a Buddhist temple.

Deputies say that six Romanian Nationalists were arrested.

Marta Chicui, 36, of California, Francisca Velcu, 43, of Oklahoma City, Floarea Miclescu, 39, of California, Narcisa Velcu, 43, of Oklahoma City, and Claudia Velcu, 50, of Oklahoma City were all charged with criminal trespassing, robbery, residential burglary, and third-degree assault.

Voinea Gratiani Miclescu, 40, of California, was charged with residential burglary, first-degree criminal mischief, possession of a controlled substance, driving left of center, driving without a license, fleeing, robbery, furnishing or using prohibited articles, third-degree assault, and criminal trespassing.

Detectives believe there were other suspects involved in this incident, but they have most likely left the area.

During an investigation, detectives learned other Buddhist temples across the nation have been the victims of similar burglaries. Some of the suspects in this incident have been connected to other Buddhist temple burglaries in California, Arizona, and Oklahoma.

Authorities say that four of the women first went to the temple on April 18 and asked for prayers. The women attempted to distract the victim but were unsuccessful. Two days later, the six suspects returned forced entry into the temple.

Detectives believe that temples are targeted due to the passive nature of the occupants and their practice of accepting donations, usually in cash.

All six suspects were released after posting bond and are set to appear in court in June.

If you have any information about these crimes, you are asked to call Detective Susan Matthews at 479-271-1008 ext. 3639.

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