Jacob Bassler and Nicholas Gustafson, both 18, turned themselves in to university police, the local Fox News affiliate reported.
Security cameras caught two people pushing a shopping cart walking by the Chabad center on the southern Illinois campus on Oct. 28 trying to move the entire 9-foot menorah, then breaking off a branch and walking off with it. The broken branch was later returned but was not able to be repaired.
Campus police spokesman Patrick Wade told the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette that the students were cited on a felony criminal charge of damage to property because it took place at a house of worship. He said that alcohol played a role in the crime, and it did not appear to be motivated by anti-Semitism. The teens also were cited for allegedly stealing the shopping cart from a local grocery store.
The university’s Chabad director, Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel, said the center is working with an architect to design a steel menorah that hopefully will be up by Hanukkah in December.
In August 2015, a 20-year-old resident of Champaign was arrested for snapping the menorah off at its base. Max Kristy was not a student at the university and told the News-Gazette that he was drunk at the time of the incident and planned to take the menorah as a gift to a Jewish friend. He was not charged with a hate crime.
The menorah was similarly vandalized in April 2015, and a branch was snapped off in February 2016.