UPDATE: New Bedford Police have arrested Amanda Alves, 30, of New Bedford in relation to the March 30 incident, charging her with the burning of land/tree/lumber/producer and vandalizing property. Sunday night's incident is still under investigation and more charges may be forthcoming.

 

NEW BEDFORD — A New Bedford business owner, who is also a witch, says she is being targeted for her beliefs after a fire was intentionally set outside her shop Sunday night.

Lucky Cabral, who owns Sanctum Folklorica, an apothecary and witchwares shop on Purchase Street, said the incident on April 4 was just the latest in a month-long string of incidents in which she has been targeted by a woman who Cabral says has an issue with her Wicca religion.

“To be honest, I don’t know exactly all of the reasons it is happening,” Cabral said. “What we do know is that she’s been buying sage all over downtown, and when people ask her why she is back and how could she have gone through all that sage so quickly, she tells them she’s trying to get rid of a bad witch.”

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New Bedford Police say they have logged three incidents since March 2 at Sanctum Folklorica, while Cabral said there have actually been four incidents in that timeframe. When asked by WBSM News if the string of incidents are being investigated as hate crimes, police spokesperson Melissa Batchilder said the department is “taking this situation very seriously.”

Batchilder said the first incident reported to police was on March 2. Cabral said she wasn’t too worried at first, because they were all “harmless incidents” and that it was “very apparent that she needed mental help.” The woman would allegedly do things such as douse the shop and the cart outside with holy water, but “nothing dangerous,” Cabral said.

On March 28, the woman returned and according to Cabral, attempted to “smudge” the shop by making “a small campfire of sage in my doorway,” Cabral said. A warrant was issued for the woman’s arrest as a result of the incident, police said.

Then, on April 2 – Good Friday – the woman allegedly stole the cart from outside the shop.

“She dragged it up Union Street to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ wall, moved it around, doused it with holy water, moved it, doused it, moved it, doused it – her actions were very apparent for mental illness,” Cabral said.

Then on Easter Sunday, a fire was reported at around 10 p.m. outside Sanctum Folklorica. Cabral said the cart outside the shop was set on fire, and that she believes it is the same woman who has been targeting her that lit the fire.

“That’s big enough that the fire could have been dangerous to the building,” Cabral said. “There’s a woman who lives above the shop who is elderly and is on oxygen, so this could have been catastrophic.”

Courtesy Lucky Cabral

While the woman in question already does have a warrant out for allegedly setting the previous fire, she could be facing additional charges if police determine she was responsible for the Sunday night fire as well.

“An investigation is currently underway for the incident last night,” Batchilder said. “We strongly encourage anyone with information on any of these incidents to please contact the NBPD directly.”

While Cabral said she previously felt the woman just needed mental help, she said “the gloves are off at this point.”

“Now that it’s come down to arson, that it could potentially threaten the lives of people upstairs, I’m going to prosecute her to whatever means I can possibly prosecute her to ensure she gets the help that she needs,” she said.

While Cabral has never had a chance to speak to the woman to find out why she is allegedly targeting her, she said she has “heard a rumor” that it may relate to an item in the shop being a family heirloom of the woman.

“If I’ve got her family heirloom in my shop, I don’t want it. It belongs to her, rightfully so, and I’d be glad to give it back to her,” Cabral said. “But I hope it’s not just because I’m a witch. The place is called ‘Sanctum’ because it’s meant to be a sanctuary for all religious practices.”

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