KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) - The Al-Inshirah Islamic Center off Troost was the thief’s first known target.
Their surveillance cameras captured clear video of the suspect who is sitting in jail Wednesday night.
Police said video shows the same man pushing and pulling on charity boxes inside the Al-Taqwa Islamic Center off Admiral in Kansas City.
After failing to yank the donation boxes off the wall, he beat the boxes with a chair. He then shoved what appears to be charitable donations into his own pockets.
“It is pretty disheartening that we've come to a place in our country where nothing seems to be sacred anymore,” Imam Sulaiman Salaam with the Al-Haqq Islamic Center said. “There use to be a time where at least houses of worship were safe if nothing else.”
Salaam says the same man broke into the Al-Haqq Islamic Center off Prospect. He says a vigilant neighbor spotted Michael Gouza prowling around and called police.
When the Al-Inshirah Islamic Center heard the news about another mosque burglary, they shared their surveillance photos. The witness in the Al-Haqq break-in recognized the man as the same suspect right away.
“He would pray with the community and basically he was casing the place out,” Salaam said.
Using surveillance video and the Kansas City Police Department’s license plate reader system, investigators found the license plate for the getaway car and tracked down Gouza.
Once in custody, police say Gouza eventually admitted to committing several mosque burglaries when they showed him video surveillance of the crimes. He is now charged with three felony counts of burglary.
“There is definitely relief,” Salaam said. “It is a good thing that we are close and we do communicate with each other.”