The accused would visit the temple for a recce before the theft and drop a coin into the box to hear how full it was, police said.

Interstate gang who looted 50 temple donation boxes arrested by Cyberabad police
news Crime Friday, July 12, 2019 - 17:28

The Cyberabad police have arrested a gang of 6 members accused of stealing from donation boxes of nearly 50 temples across Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka. 

The thefts were committed in the limits of Cyberabad Commissionerate, Vikarabad, Mahababoobnagar, Narayanpet, Wanaparthy, Nagarkurnool and Gadwal districts of Telangana; Kadapa and Chittoor districts of Andhra Pradesh and Chikkaballapur and Kolar districts in Karnataka. 

Police have recovered 60 grams of gold ornaments worth Rs 2 lakh and nearly 3 kilos of silver ornaments, which are worth Rs 1.25 lakh. The motorcycles and mobile phones of the accused have also been seized. 

According to the police, the members of the gang belong to the same village of Kotha Madhavaram in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh. The main accused, Adinarayana, and his brother were previously arrested by the Kadapa town police in 2017 for breaking into homes and temples. After being released in early 2018, the two brothers are said to have formed an organised gang with their relatives. 

The modus operandi

According to the Cyberabad police, the members would go around on their motorcycles looking for temples. They would visit a temple and insert coins in the donation box, listening with their ear against the box to figure out whether there is a huge amount of cash inside. They would then return at night, break the temple locks with iron rods, take the money and divide it among themselves. They would observe the surroundings in advance during the day, to be prepared in case of trouble. The members would often change their residence to avoid being caught, setting up temporary huts on the outskirts of different villages and towns. 

According to the police, the gang has committed a total of 28 thefts in Telangana, 9 thefts in AP and 13 in Karnataka. A special team was formed with the CCS Shamshabad police, who visited different places across the three states, went through CCTV footage and tracked the offenders’ motorcycles before apprehending them. Police have said that the loss of property on record is nearly Rs 11,50,000. 

“It’s difficult to tell how much they stole. Temples don’t always count the money in the donation box daily, so even some of the complainants don’t know how much has been stolen,” CCS Shamshabad police said.

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