Jewel thief strikes Ganpati temple in Pune, steals idol's ornaments

CCTV footage shows an unidentified man in white smashing the Mandai Ganpati temple’s window, breaking in and stealing ornaments worth Rs 44 lakh from the famous Sharada-Ganesh idol around 5 am yesterday

Pune: The well-known Mandai Ganpati temple, managed by one of the city’s oldest and most prestigious Ganpati mandals, was hit by a Rs 44-lakh robbery in the wee hours of yesterday. The incident came to light when the priest opened the doors at 6 am and found ornaments missing from the idol in the inner sanctum.

The Mandai Ganpati is over 121 years old, and ranks just after the city’s Manache Ganpati in the annual Ganesh festival procession. Situated at the Mahatma Phule Mandai, it is famous for its unique idol featuring Ganpati with his wife, Sharada, giving rise to the other name for the temple Sharada-Ganpati. It was from this idol that the jewel thief stole gold weighing more than 50 tola.

The jewels including a diamond necklace valued at Rs 20 lakh were stolen from the famed Sharada-Ganesh idol in the inner sanctum of the temple
The jewels including a diamond necklace valued at Rs 20 lakh were stolen from the famed Sharada-Ganesh idol in the inner sanctum of the temple

Around 6 am yesterday, the temple priest Shripad Kulkarni opened the temple doors and realised the ornaments were missing. He immediately alerted the temple’s trust members and the local police. The Vishrambaug police station registered a case and began to scrutinise CCTV footage from the temple and surrounding areas.

The temple had no security guard and the glass window did not have a metal grill. The thief entered and exited from this window, which he smashed with the help of a brick
The temple had no security guard and the glass window did not have a metal grill. The thief entered and exited from this window, which he smashed with the help of a brick

“The CCTV camera footage shows the theft taking place around 5 am. The thief was wearing white clothes and entered the temple by smashing a window with help of a cement brick.

He stole two gold necklaces, two gold chains, a mangalsutra and goddess Sharada’s diamond necklace worth around Rs 20 lakh. He escaped through the same window he had entered from,” said Inspector Hemant Bhat, in-charge of the Vishrambaug police station.

CCTV cameras captured an unidentified man in white breaking into the temple and making of with the jewels
CCTV cameras captured an unidentified man in white breaking into the temple and making of with the jewels

The temple had no protective metal grill on the window, and no security guard either. “The mandal had employed a watchman, but he had gone to his hometown on holiday. The glass window had no iron grill, and so was easy to break,” said Inspector Bhat, adding that he had deployed a team of five officers to detect the crime.

Know this man?
Based on the CCTV footage, the police have released this sketch of the jewel thief and have appealed to the public to help them hunt him down. If you have any leads, call 020-24457750 or 26208439.

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