ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Fairfax County police are trying to find who ransacked a Muslim family's apartment, stealing all their valuables, destroying religious items and leaving a hateful message written on their wall.
Shoaib and his wife, Mahrukh, who opted not to give their last name, were out of town for the weekend with their children when they got a call from a building maintenance worker who discovered the break-in at their apartment on Grand Pavilion Way next to the Huntington Metro station.
"It's hard to describe,” said Shoaib. “It felt like my heart was up here in my throat.”
They came home to find their home in shambles.
"You name it, and it's gone," said Mahrukh. "Everything I think above $100."
"The police seem to think that it wasn't a targeted a crime," Shoaib said. "The people who broke in had originally come in with the intention of stealing stuff, and once they are inside the apartment, they realize that we are Muslims and then decided to vandalize on their way out just trying to rub it in our faces."
He said worse than what was taken was what was left behind.
"The thing that really, really was bothering us was the fact that the holy Quran was ripped up and was sort of scattered all over the living room floor," Shoaib said.
The thieves damaged other Islamic symbols as well and wrote on the wall with a marker.
"The burglary didn't hurt, but what did hurt was that somebody thought this was okay," said Shoaib.
Fairfax County police were at the home Tuesday collecting evidence and taking photos. For now, the couple and their 4-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son are staying with relatives.
"We just kept thanking God that we weren't home when this happened," said Shoaib. "My children will never find out that this happened. I will make sure that is the case. My daughter still thinks there was a water leak or something in the house."
The family moved here from Dubai just a year ago.
"I've always loved Northern Virginia as an area," Shoaib said.
"It's very charming," added Mahrukh.
They say even after this, they have no regrets.
"The amount of support we have gotten in the last 48 hours is overwhelmingly such a good feeling," Shoaib said. "We know for sure we made the right choice."
Fairfax County police are hoping for help with this case and are urging anyone who saw anything suspicious at this building over the weekend to give them a call.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help the family. For more information, go to www.gofundme.com/help-hate-crime-in-alexandria