Weird thefts at Hindu temples, TN and elsewhere

''Theft''  is the name of a statutory offense  in many countries across the globe and the punishment for such a criminal act varies among them. Despite deterrents, bank robberies in the US banks and elsewhere go on for decades and the court keep sending the  criminals to the jail to reform them.  When they come out on bail, they keep cool for sometime and again engage in stealing, robberies, etc. They are back to square one in the slammer. In India, in the last  couple  of decades a gang of well-trained thieves are after India's centuries - old  metal idols, artifacts, etc because these antiques  fetch a huge bundle on the international market. In Tamil Nadu state, in the last decade or so, it as become a serious offense and the govt. is taking  special steps to curb them. The frequency of such incidences is a real cause of concern among temple lovers.  In the midst of such painful temple thefts, some weird things do happen. Reported below are a few incidents of Hindu temple thefts  of which some are  weird  and uncanny, and may give you a  good laugh. Some are committed  due to poverty and some are done out of arrogance and lack of contentment on the part of criminals..
Above image:   A ‘pious and devoted Hindu ’thief, knowing well ''what he is doing is  absolutely wrong'' on the holy temple premises in the dark hours of night, stole  five idols, (three made of Panchaloha and the rest of brass, from the shrine) by way of invocation  to god  with  cool mind. Overwhelmed with a blend of bhakti  and  audacity  he had stolen  the same God's idols and also the offerings in the Hundi (donation box).  His hilarious actions were recorded on  temple CCTV cameras. The theft took place on  the night of April 20 2018, after a burglar scaled the walls of Sri Azhagu Sundara Perumal temple at Seevalaperi, Tirunelveli Dist.  and decamped with the figurines. Because the temple Hundi had been broken too and cash stolen, the investigating police thought that it was the work of at least two buglers  in side the temple.  It was a typical ''one man show''  with the culprit wearing no shirt.  However, he was smart and had his face covered  to conceal his identity - to avoid getting caught.  Interestingly, the God-fearing thief, after his clean sweep removed his slippers and worshiped  before the sanctum  for five seconds. He then went to the shrine dedicated to  Goddess Lakshmi, and offered prayers.  Upon his successful mission, he wore  his slippers, got out of the temple stealthily  and disappeared in the dark. Luck was in favor of him, fortunately, there were no stray dogs close to the temple. If they were there, he would have been in the soup. The police are after this pious thief!!  When he comes out of the closet to sell the idols, he may be caught in the police's dragnet.
idols stolen from Udaipur

Above  image: 20 idols stolen over a span of just three days? . On  16 Feb. 2016 in Udaipur, Rajasthan, a daring  idol smuggling gang  targeted two temples and  ransacked them in three days time. Their loot - 20 idols were  removed  from Aadinath Digambar Jain community temple and  Jagannath Rai temple belonging to Swarnakar Medh Samaj  were the victims.  15 Ashtdhatu idols were robbed from the Jain temple situated at Badnor-ki-Haveli. The entire city was in a state of shock because some of these idols were estimated to be over 300-years-old  for which the devotees had been offering prayer and puja for a pretty long  time. 
A thief who used 'puja' as a ruse to steal, Hyderabad, India.

In November, 2019 Durga Bhavani Temple  Abids, Hyderabad, Telengana   was  busy with lots of Hindu devotees.  Around 6.30 evening  an unknown and well-composed  person  walked  near the main altar of the deity  and began  performing pooja with true devotion. Any body could mistake him for a true devotee. Before blinking your eyes he  made an exit in a jiff. The fake devotee fled  away with a silver crown (weighs 35 tolas of silver) of the idol.  Besides, he took away Rs.15,000  cash from the ‘Hundi’ of the temple. That how did he carry out this daylight theft in the presence of so many devotees in the temple is a puzzle.  When the temple priest arrived, he was in great pain to see the God's crown missing and immediately he  informed the police. The Police saw the TV footage taken from the secret Camera and the culprit would be caught soon, the cops said.

Ranvir Shah of Chennai is a man with two faces. He was a successful businessman with a name  for a long time, and the God was quite merciful with him and his future was quite safe with good financial security. But his perception of life changed  when his ego and loss of contentment in life became a dominant force acting on him, he had begun to drift into a different field that is wrought with lots of dangers. Yes, he began collecting  metal idols, artifacts, rare temple sculptures, etc without proper  Govt. certification or legal records.  The Idol Wing of Chennai, Govt of TN, got a tip off and their search on Sunday, 4 November, 2018  in his office in Guindy yielded five statues of 'vahanams' (god's mounts) at the venue and the officials  said that they would  soon take action to arrest Ranvir Shah.  Earlier, the Idol Wing recovered over 200 idols and artifacts from  his  residence and farmhouse. Idol Wing DSP Sundaram said, "Several artifacts stolen from Tamil Nadu temples are hidden here. They are all statues of 'vahanams'. We got information that there were plans to smuggle these to foreign countries. So we got a search warrant from the Kumbakonam court. We found five vahanams of Perumal – rishabha vahanams. These are over 500 years old. A lot of these idols don’t have the necessary documentation." 
 Ranvir Shah's life is a good example of  what will happen if our greed goes beyond the limit to the point of committing crime by laying hands on sanctified idols in the holy temples -tampering with any  place of worship, be it  church, mosque, Buddha vihara, mutts, etc is a despicable act.
Stealing 1000kg  stone bull (nandi), Andhra.

 On the night of January 24, 2019  a gang of 15 thieves  had a big plan. They  were known to operate on the dictum of '' Think big and act on it''. Believe it or not these people targeted a Shiva temple in East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh - the 400-year old Agastheswara Swamy temple in RamachandrapuramTheir main attraction  was 1000 kg granite stone idol Nadi (bull). When the rumor mill was working overtime that the stone 'Nandi idol contains lots of diamonds', based on it, they wanted to focus on the huge stone bull so that they could become rich overnight.  They worked hard  whole night  and managed to shift the  huge idol to the banks of a canal near-by in the district and quietly  began to dismantle it, but to their utter disappointment  they found no precious stones. Their foolishness greed drove them into the police slammer.