The police have arrested a man accused of stealing antique and precious idols from a Jain Basadi in Moodbidri, from Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh. They have also received a 14-day remand for Santosh Das, who will be brought to the city soon.
Though sources said he was arrested “two or three days ago”, Manish Kharbikar, Mangalore City Police Commissioner, refused to comment.
A special team from Mangalore left for Odisha a few days after 15 idols – some made of gold, diamonds or studded with precious stones – were stolen from the Siddhanta Darshan Block on July 5.
Tracking down the mobile number of the suspect, the Mangalore police and the Odisha police raided a house owned by Mr. Das’s relative in Bhubaneshwar and recovered the idols on July 13.
Three idols were in their original shape, seven in pieces and the rest melted into gold bars. However, Mr. Das managed to give a slip to the police.
The Odisha police had described the accused as an “experienced, solo operator”, as he had been arrested twice before for theft from temples. In 2000, he was accused in the theft of a Madanmohan idol from the Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneshwar, and later, a similar case from a temple in Hyderabad.
While confirming the arrest, Nitinjeet Singh, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Bhuvaneshwar, said the Odisha police’s role was limited to logistical support.