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Boston police investigate vandalism at three Catholic churches

 A statue of the Virgin Mary at St. Gregory Parish in Dorchester has been vandalized repeatedly in recent weeks.
A statue of the Virgin Mary at St. Gregory Parish in Dorchester has been vandalized repeatedly in recent weeks.(David L Ryan/Globe Staff)

Boston police are investigating a series of vandalism incidents in which statues at Catholic churches were defaced with red stains in recent weeks.

The most recent incident was reported at about 7:20 p.m. Wednesday. Officers responding to a call found a statue of the Virgin Mary at St. Gregory’s Church on Dorchester Avenue had been defaced with an “unknown red substance,” according to the Boston police website.

Police were told that this was the fourth time since mid-March that the statue had been splashed with a red substance.

The Rev. Jack Ahern said the statue is located on parish property, next to the school building across the street from the church.

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The first time it happened, Ahern said he assumed it was just “kids being stupid,” but when it happened again, he grew more concerned.

“It’s not a prank,” he said. “It’s more serious than that.”

Another incident was reported March 11, after an unknown red substance was found on a statue at Most Precious Blood Church on Maple Street in Hyde Park. The same red substance was also reported on a statue and bench in front of St. Anne’s Church on West Milton Street in Hyde Park, according to police.

Police said they have been unable to locate any suspects.

Police were told that a parishioner had previously seen an unfamiliar woman inside Most Precious Blood Church who appeared to be attempting to spray something on statues.

“The unknown female, when confronted, stated that she was just praying before exiting the church and leaving the scene in a white sedan,” police said in a statement.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Boston Police Civil Rights Unit at 617-343-4527.

Those who wish to provide information anonymously can call the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 1-800-494-TIPS or text the word ‘TIP’ to CRIME (27463).

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Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.