Thief would play pujari to rob temples

Aug 01, 2012, 06:24 IST | Shiva Devnath

The accused would dress up as a priest, win the confidence of temple authorities, wangle keys to the donation box, and hand them over to his gang members

Cops have stumbled upon a gang that robbed temples, one of them posing as a pujari. Three of the gang members were arrested in Rajasthan on Monday for allegedly robbing cash and religious artefacts from a Jain temple in the city. The bogus pujari is on the run, and cops have launched a manhunt for him.

Unholy: Police have recovered some temple artefacts from thieves Pic/Nayan Shahane

Cops have recovered some of the booty, but a large chunk of it is in possession of the pujari.

Modus operandi
According to the police, Ranjeet Singh, who was the gang’s mastermind, would dress up as a pujari and take up employment in temples. After making copies of the keys to temple’s lockers and donation boxes, he would leave the job.

He would then hand over the duplicate keys to his three accomplices, who would then proceed to rob the temples. The three arrested accused have been identified as Vikram Singh Chauhan, Vijay Chauhan and Kiran Jhala.

The gang’s ingenuity came to light after a recent theft at a temple. On July 24, the priest of a Jain temple at Pushpa Park in Malad (East) reported the theft of jewellery and cash worth Rs 1.8 lakh. Dindoshi police visited the spot and collected CCTV footage of the temple. J Mane, senior police officer, Dindoshi police station, revealed that the footage gave them enough leads to launch a search for the accused.

“During investigations, we established that the three were residents of Rajasthan. We sent a police team, and on Monday evening they were arrested and brought back to Mumbai,” said Mane.

During questioning, the three accused told them that their accomplice Ranjeet was the mastermind behind the robberies. “The three have revealed that they robbed several temples in Mumbai, Gujarat and Rajasthan. We are now trying to recover the booty and trace Ranjeet, who is absconding with the cash,” said Mane. 

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