Even as investigators probing the burglary at the Bronze Gallery inside the Government Museum in Egmore on Thursday night have lifted a fingerprint from a glass panel inside, the Museum administration has initiated disciplinary action against half a dozen officials.
Forensic analysis of the fingerprint is crucial to the case as it is suspected to be that of one of the burglars. The CCTV footage showing shadowy images of a man obtained by investigators has been sent to experts for image enhancement to help identify the perpetrators, according to police sources.
A senior government official says though only two replicas of the coins have gone missing, the incident exposes chinks in what was regarded as a tight security system. The 50-year-old Bronze Gallery building enjoys three-levels of security – guarded by personnel of police and Ex-Servicemen Corporation, CCTV camera and wired main door.
At the Gallery, there are about 220 exhibits ranging from the 6 Century B.C. to the modern period. The Coins Section has about 80 objects, some original and others replicas.
For the last 10 years, the Museum’s practice has been to mix the originals and the replicas as a security measure.
The burglary came to light on Saturday morning when gallery in-charge Lalitha opened the sealed main door of the building following the Museum’s holiday on Friday. A total of five door locks were found broken and it is suspected that two burglars who broke in rummaged through three almirahs on the second floor and the numismatics section on the first floor and escaped by scaling down a tree adjoining the building.
Police suspect that one of them entered the gallery as a visitor, hid inside on Thursday evening and smashed open a window on the top floor to let his accomplice in. The second thief gained entry by scaling the tree and jumping in late on Thursday night, police sources said.
Duty Officer Prema Deepa Rani of the Government Museum has lodged a complaint with the Egmore police stating that only two replica coins made of fibre, one each from Akbar and Jahangir era, were missing.
Sources with the investigation team reveal that the CCTV footage has recorded shadowy images of a man climbing a tree and another breaking open the window.
Footage of visitors to the gallery on Thursday is also being scrutinised to find the man suspected to have entered the premises and hidden inside.
“Whether the burglars made the risky heist for just two replica coins is questionable. However, we are tallying the fingerprint obtained with ones in the criminal database available to find a possible match. Whether it is the work of an insider is also under probe,” said an investigating officer.
Action against the armed guards on duty at the gallery on the night of burglary is being contemplated, the sources say.