Officers think he tore down and destroyed a cross containing an image of Jesus at Saint Athanasius Roman Catholic Church in Bensonhurst.
The vandal also burned an American flag on the property.
The damaged Crucifix was discovered by the parish pastor, Monsignor David Cassato, around 8 a.m. Friday on his walk from the rectory to the academy to greet the students.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help restore the church.
"This was truly an act of hatred and today is the saddest day of my twenty years here at this parish," said Monsignor David Cassato. "I went over and spoke to the students in the school about what happened, telling them that hate never wins. We are, and must be, a community that continues to share the message of Easter, that which is of love, hope, and forgiveness."
Churchgoers packed the street on Friday night praying in solidarity.
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