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Rs 5-lakh midnight heist at Sanatan Dharm temple in Chandigarh

The burglars took 20 minutes to pick seven crowns of deities, a gold chattar, some jewellery and an estimated Rs 60,000 in cash before fleeing.

cities Updated: Mar 24, 2018 10:52 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Chandigarh,Chandigarh police,theft at temple
Thieves entered the temple by breaking the door padlocks, and then snapped the wires of six CCTV cameras.(HT Photo)

Masked thieves took away jewellery and valuables worth over Rs 5 lakh from Sanatan Dharm temple in Sector 16, Chandigarh, on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday.

The burglars gained entry into six temples on the campus around 1:20am by simply breaking the door padlocks, and snapped the wires of the six CCTV cameras installed inside.

They then took 20 minutes to pick seven crowns of deities, a gold chattar, some jewellery and an estimated Rs 60,000 in cash before fleeing.

Three people, including an elderly woman, were asleep on the temple premises when the theft took place. But none of them heard anything.

Police said apart from the crowns and jewellery, the miscreants even ripped off the silver coating on the Shivling.

The police have taken the digital video recorder into their custody to retrieve any salvageable CCTV footage.

Vijender, a pujari at the temple, said, “I woke up around 2am to relieve myself. But found my door bolted from the outside. I called out to another pujari sleeping on the temple premises, but when he did not answer, I called him on his mobile phone.”

As Vijender stepped out of his room, they realised there had been a burglary and called the police.

“The accused had covered their faces. According to preliminary investigation, they seemed to be aware of the temple’s floor plan,” said inspector Maninder Singh, station house officer (SHO), Sector 17, Chandigarh.

A case under Section 457 (lurking house-trespass or house-breaking by night in order to commit offence punishable with imprisonment) and 380 (Theft in dwelling house, etc) of the Indian Penal Code at the Sector-17 police station.

Donation box opened once a month

Police said the gang seemed to be aware that the cash donation box will be full, as it’s opened just once a month. “The temple gets donations close to Rs 60,000 every month, and as a practice, the box is opened once a month towards the end,” said a member of the temple management. But the thieves left behind some low denomination currency notes.

CCTV footage grainy

Investigators said the footage of all six CCTV cameras was grainy, as the cameras had poor resolution and didn’t have night vision. Besides, they were covered with cobwebs. But sources claimed that faces of two accused had been captured.

Anjana Gupta from the temple management committee, said, “A camera had captured some accused. They can be seen leaving from the rear gate and jumping off the boundary wall.”

Similarity with Saketri temple theft

Police suspect the theft to be the handiwork of the same thieves who struck at the Saketri temple in Panchkula district on February 18. Chandigarh police are in touch with their counterparts in Panchkula, and are even scanning CCTV footage of the Saketri temple theft to identify the accused.

First Published: Mar 24, 2018 10:44 IST