The Tirupati police have released the image of a suspect involved in the Govindaraja Swamy temple heist, where three diamond-studded golden crowns were stolen on Saturday. The police were able to make the breakthrough after the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) vigilance and security wing shared the CCTV footage of the suspect with the Tirupati Urban police officials,
According to reports, the suspect, identified as Mathaiah, is a regular offender and has been involved in multiple theft cases in Tirupati temples in the past, including stealing from hundis. Suspicion arose when Mathaiah was seen hurrying through the crowds, which was captured by the CCTV on Saturday morning.
Speaking to TNM, Anburajan, Superintendent, Tirupati Urban Police, said that they have released images of the suspect and are looking for clues from people to nab him. During preliminary investigation, there was also suspicion that the theft was an inside job, and that temple staff were involved in the theft.
â€śWe are not ruling out any possibilities. The suspect is a regular offender and his movement was recorded in the CCTV installed inside the Govindaraja Swamy Temple. While the probe is on, we are also looking out for other possibilities which might have led to the heist,â€ť the police officer said.
Though there is no official confirmation of an arrest, local media reports suggest that the suspect has been nabbed and also an auto driver who helped Mathaiah to escape from the temple premises has been also arrested by the special investigation team. The top brass of the TTD has reportedly decided to initiate disciplinary action and suspend two priests attached to the sub-temple, from where the crowns disappeared, on grounds of negligence.
The heist came to light when the temple staff noticed that the three crowns had gone missing on the eve of the commencement of the weekly temple procession. The temple was closed at 5 pm for devotees. When it was reopened at 5.45 pm, one of the priests in the 18 sub-temples of the Govindaraja Swamy temple found that the crowns were missing.
Govindaraja Swamy Temple is a 12th century temple that was built by Saint Ramanujacharya, and is one of the earliest structures in Tirupati. It is also one of the biggest temple complexes in Chittoor district.