There is a plan to provide burglar alarms, cell-phone jammers and closed circuit television sets in temples, says Rajesh B. Nair

Stung by the criticism over the “poor handling” of hundi thefts, the police have sought the assistance of temple authorities in providing foolproof security system to prevent such incidents.

In the last six months, cash and valuables were stolen from hundis of five major temples and from 15 other temples in Puducherry. Except the theft inside three temples and arrest of two persons, other cases were yet to be cracked so far.

After the issue came up for discussion in the Assembly, a joint meeting of officials from the district administration, the police and the Hindu Religious Charitable Endowment Department (HR& CED) was held to identify ways to prevent recurrence of such incidents.

Members cutting across partylines have asked the government to take immediate steps to prevent temple thefts and sought measures to streamline the functioning of temple administration.

Sources in the police said they had identified 14 major temples in Puducherry where security measures had to be reinforced. As per the plan, these temples would be provided with burglar alarms, cell-phone jammers and closed circuit television sets. A senior official said the entire expenses for providing a fool-proof security system had been worked out to be around Rs. 60,000.

Police also organised a demonstration on the working of the security gadget for the benefit of HR&CED officials. The temple authorities had also been told to appoint watchmen to guard the hundis.

From the police side, the concerned superintendents of police and inspectors would make regular visits to the temples to review the security system. The Station House Officers in police stations had been given instruction to maintain a list of all small temples in their jurisdiction.

Investigating officers said that so far the leads collected point out to the involvement of only small-time offenders. The maximum amount stolen from the hundi was around Rs. 9,000, they said.

In one of the cases worked out, the offender took asylum in the temple while it was open and then committed the crime in the wee hours. After the burglary, the thief managed to escape from the locked temple by climbing on a tree and thereafter jumped the walls, he said.

The police have approached their counterparts in Tamil Nadu to provide a list of thieves who target temples, he said.

“We have learnt from Tamil Nadu Police that a group operating from Villupuram, Cuddalore and Chennai mainly target temples. They have a knack of sneaking into the temples,” said a senior official. Some of the important temples that were the target of thieves included Thirukameeswarar Temple, Varadaraja Perumal temple, Thirukameeswarar Devasathanam and Varadaraja Perumal Temple.