In a first of its kind, robbery took place at two Hindu temples in the United States within a span of 24 hours. The way the jewelry of the deities of the temples was stolen in both the cases, as reported by the priests, the robbery appears to be a well-planned act by no armed gang, but a team of professional thieves disguised as devotees.
The Mahalakshmi Temple of Atlanta, Cumming and the Hindu Temple of Atlanta, Riverdale in the US state of Georgia are the temples which reported the theft of their deities’ gold jewelry worth thousands of dollars.
In the evening of May 16, a band of six thieves – three men and three women – walked into the Sri Mahalakshmi Temple of Atlanta in Cumming and stole the gold jewelry off the deities in a surprisingly casual way. Two men out of the six got into a causal conversation with the two priests who were present in the sanctum, and cut the priests’ attention off the deities with their curiosity about the history of the temple.
When the priests of Sri Mahalakshmi Temple in Atlanta were proposed for an interview on their knowledge of Hindu religion, they stepped out of the sanctum and came outside. Taking advantage of the moment when the sanctum was unguarded, the other members of the band including three women with their heads covered who were casually walking around the prayer room, entered the sanctum and took the gold jewelry off the idols.
When one of the priests intended to go back inside the temple, the two men held him back for a little more conversation. Meanwhile, the other thieving members including a little girl fled the complex, with ten gold necklaces which are valued at over $15,000. The robbery, which was captured on the surveillance cameras at Sri Mahalakshmi Temple of Atlanta, was discovered around 6.30 PM.
Within 24 hours of the theft at Sri Mahalakshmi Temple of Atlanta, the gold jewelry of the presiding deity at the Hindu Temple of Atlanta was stolen in a similar incident of heist.
Surprisingly, the robbery took place in the presence of two priests in the sanctum of the temple, as per the reports. When the priests were busy preparing for the evening rituals in the afternoon of May 17, two Caucasian couples tiptoed near the presiding deity, Lord Venkateswara and stole the jewelry. They also took the jewelry off the idol of Andal at the Hindu Temple of Atlanta, Riverdale. The estimated value of the stolen jewelry is not yet known.
The thieves have not been arrested yet in either of the robbery cases in Atlanta Metropolitan Area, Georgia.
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