Kottayam: A thief struck at the famous Mahadeva temple at Thirunakkara here early Friday and decamped with money from four donation boxes after locking the security guard up in a room in the wee hours of Friday.
The thief tried to break open 5 offering boxes in the temple at around 1:30am on Friday. However, the main donation box below the temple flag-staff was untouched.
From the four boxes opened, the thief took only currency notes and left the coins in it. Temple authorities estimate a loss of around Rs 5,000.
Had he opened the main box, the loss would have been in lakhs, they claimed.
The CCTV cameras in places near the temple have captured the visuals of the thief who is wearing a T-shirt and was carrying a bag. However, the CCTV cameras in the temple premises was turned to the opposite direction deliberately by the thief.
Police said CCTV footage showed a masked man entering the temple. Forensic department and dog squad have been pressed into service.
An FIR has been registered in this connection and a search is on for the culprit, the police said.
Security to be beefed up
District police chief G Jayadev reached the spot and assured that steps will be taken to increase the security in temples.
Investigation revealed there was only one security staff on duty as the theft happened.
The police also noted that the temple staff did not have any clue of the break-in even though the thief was present on the premises for more than half an hour.
Earlier police patrol team used to sign on the beat book kept at the security room situated at the northen gate of the temple every hour. This system has been discontinued for the past four years, said an office-bearer of the temple trust.
The system of ringing the bells of the temple once every hour has also been discontinued for the past many years.
The Saivite temple is in the heart of Kottayam town. The temple comes under the Kottayam-Mundakayam group of the Travancore Dewasom Board. The strong room attached to the temple stores gold ornaments from small, medium and big temples under the Mundakayam group.
Pattern in recent cases
The theft at the Thirunakkara temple has similarities with thefts reported from various temples in Kottayam district recently. A similar theft had taken place at a temple in nearby Vazhappally, nearly 18 km from here and on the outskirts of Changanacherry town. The thief who targeted this temple had also robbed the kanikka vanchi as was the case in Thirunakkara.
The theft at Vazhappally was between 2 am and 4 am. The theft at Thirunakkara temple also happened in the wee hours.