The spate of burglaries in temples of the old city is making police personnel jittery even as thieves are striking with impunity and seemingly managing to escape with large quantities of gold and silver ornaments without much ado.
In a span of one month, gangs of thieves have struck at the Mangal Mukh Hanuman Temple and Sri Mahankali Temple (Uppuguda), Sri Simhavahini Mahankali Temple (Lal Darwaza) - all located under the Chatrinaka police station limits.
Police suspect that a single gang could have been behind the spate of burglaries as they not only appear to be familiar with the topography of temples in Chatrinaka but the modus operandi in all these three incidents have been almost the same.
“We suspect the involvement of a new gang in these cases. They are first scouting religious places and later targeting them between 2.30 a.m. and 3.30 a.m.,” pointed out ACP (Falaknuma) Mohammed Taher Ali.
In the three burglaries, the intruders had entered the temples by breaking open the main door locks and run off with the booty.
They did not even spare the ornaments adorning the deities and had also disfigured in the main deity in the Lal Darwaza temple in search of precious stones, a senior police official said.
Investigators had already compared the fingerprints collected from the theft spots with the criminals’ data maintained by the Crime Records Bureau.
The call data of mobile phone users in the area was also examined apart from interrogating the known criminals involved in previous cases of temple thefts.
“We are investigating the burglaries from all possible angles though we are yet to achieve any major breakthrough,” explained the official.
Another police official said the gang might be selling the stolen articles outside the State instead of approaching the local pawn brokers and jewellers in twin cities to prevent getting caught in the police dragnet.
While officials maintain that they were leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to trace the offenders, members of the various temple committees and devotees are charging them with “apparent laxity” in preventing such thefts.
After the burglary in Lal Darwaza temple, Major Industries Minister J. Geetha Reddy and senior police officials had assured devotees that necessary steps would be taken to avert thefts in temples.
But as the latest incident had shown, the gang is one step ahead of the police.