Sharma, who had buried the cash near his residence in Uttar Pradesh before returning to duty last year, was convinced to confess to his crime by the church priest, with the assurance that he would not be turned in.
According to Amboli police officers, Father Joseph John Pimento had filed a complaint that an unidentified man had looted the donation box in November. The police had then questioned the watchman, who was reported missing by the priest for two days after the incident. When interrogated, Sharma, however, had said that he was unwell at the time and was at his accommodation near the church. The police had let him go, as they did not have any evidence against him. But they suspected foul play and began investigating his antecedents.
Assistant inspector Irfan Shaikh from Amboli police station said that they had acquired the call details of Sharma of days immediately before and after the robbery. “In the report we found that the day after the crime, the location of his mobile phone was recorded as Uttar Pradesh and then Mumbai within 24 hours,” said Shaikh. Cops contacted the priest last week and apprised him of the situation.
On Wednesday, Father Pimento called Sharma to his chamber and confronted him about the theft. Sharma was adamant and asserted that he was innocent. “It was only when the priest assured Sharma that the matter would not be reported to the police that he confessed to have robbed the donation box. He also said that he had wrapped the cash in a plastic packet and buried it in a vacant plot near his home in his native village,” said Shaikh.
Police arrested Sharma on the charge of theft and recovered the cash from his village on Saturday evening. The accused was presented before a court yesterday where he was remanded in police custody. “We are now trying to determine whether or not Sharma had any accomplices in the crime,” Shaikh added.