Burglars attempt to steal idols from the Arulmigu Uthamarkovil, also known as Bikshandarkoil, on the city’s outskirts in the early hours of Friday got thwarted after the burglar alarm installed in the shrine went off.

Moments later, the police apprehended two persons including a college student who were found hiding within the shrine premises after having failed in their alleged abortive bid to steal the idols.

This is the third burglary bid in a temple controlled by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR &CE) department in the district within a fortnight after similar attempts were reported at Sri Vada Jambunathar rock cut temple at Thiruvellarai and at the Arulmigu Thayumanaswamy Temple in Tiruchi.

The police gave the names of the arrested accused as Durga Prasanth (22), a final year B.Sc. student of a reputed city college, and Vinod Sasil Raj (18), a labourer.

Two more persons said to be involved in the offence and apparently overseeing it from the nearby flyover fled the spot when the alarm went off.

Uthamarkovil, a Sri Vaishnavite Divya Desam, is a temple for the Hindu holy trinity where Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva along with their consorts are worshipped on the same premises.

The police said the accused were hiding on the temple premises on Thursday night to carry out the crime once the shrine was closed.

The temple which saw a large number of devotees on Thursday was shut at around 10.30 p.m. As their attempt to break the locks of the offertory containing cash proved futile, the culprits then attempted to cut the lock of Sri Varadaraja Perumal sannidi inside where three ancient bronze idols were kept, police and HR & CE officials said.

The culprits apparently used an axe blade to cut the lock of the shrine door, equipped with sensors, when the burglar alarm went off alerting the temple watchman posted outside, the local people and a beat policeman, the sources said.

The culprits had used gloves while committing the offence at around 1.30 a.m.

Upon being alerted, a police patrol vehicle came to the spot and the public surrounded the temple to prevent the culprits from fleeing the shrine.

Moments later, the temple was opened in the presence of HR & CE officials in the early hours to enable the police conduct a check.

The police fanned out within the shrine looking out for the accused who were hiding on the terrace.

The culprits had used the iron stairs to reach the terrace to hide once the alarm went off, the sources said.

Two other culprits who were overseeing the crime from the nearby flyover fled the spot on hearing the burglar alarm.

The police held an enquiry with the accused after apprehending them to ascertain the identity of the other two culprits.

The Kollidam Police have registered a case under IPC sections 457 (house break-in by night) and 511 (attempt to commit offences) on a complaint from the temple authorities.

A “parihara puja” was conducted in the temple following the burglary bid.