BELLMORE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Someone cut the head off a statue of the Virgin Mary and left it lying on the ground at a Knights of Columbus chapter on Long Island, police said Thursday.

Between 10:19 a.m. Tuesday and 10 a.m. Wednesday, someone broke the Statue of the Blessed Mother outside the Knights of Columbus chapter at 2333 Bellmore Ave. in Bellmore, Nassau County police said.

A photo released by police showed the statue in its alcove tipped off its pedestal, and lying partially on the ground. The head of the statue has been cut off and is lying in the dirt.

“Someone’s got to have some hate in their heart,” said Knights of Columbus Grand Knight Austin Cannon.

Members of the chapter were devastated by the vandalism outside the council building.

“Members equate this to maybe a person of the Jewish faith coming out and finding a swastika on the side of a building,” Cannon said. “The Blessed Mother is an integral part of our faith, and to find her statue pushed over really upset our members.”

Member Bill Palladino discovered the crime when he drove by.

“Our Blessed Mother is very important to us,” Palladino said. “I just can’t understand or fathom why they would want to do something like this.”

Two other similar incidents have happened in Nassau County over the past year, police said. Another incident happened at the same Knights of Columbus chapter on July 16 of last year, and a Nativity Scene at Bedford Avenue and Broadway in Bellmore was similarly damaged three days after Christmas last year.

The statue that was broken this week was the replacement for the one that was damaged in July.

“It’s emotional,” Cannon said. “We as a council, it’s part of our faith. It hurts, is what it really does.”

“You can break it as many times as you want,” added Knights of Columbus Deputy Grand Knight James Ruescher. “But at the end of the day it’ll always be bigger and better.”

Police asked anyone with information about the crime to call Nassau County Crime Stoppers at (800) 244-TIPS. Callers need not give their names.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $5,000.

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