Vehicle thieves turn out to be serial church burglars

April 7, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Bengaluru, April 7, 2017: When the Bengaluru police caught three suspected vehicle thieves recently, they didn’t have the faintest idea that the gang was more into burgling churches in southern India, targeting the donation boxes in particular.

One of the suspects turned out to be involved in the sensational theft at Velankanni church in Tamil Nadu on January 31, 2017.

Alex (29) and his two accomplices — Jayaprakash G (35) and Sujoy (35) — were caught by the Bommanahalli police when they were reportedly trying to sell off four-wheelers stolen from across Bengaluru. Police were stumped when they seized the valuables stolen by the gang.

The booty included a goods carrier, three other four-wheelers, gold ornaments, foreign currency and coins.

A detailed look at the jewellery convinced the police that it was stolen from outside Karnataka. They contacted their counterparts in Kerala and Tamil Nadu and it emerged that the booty was stolen from some of the prominent churches in the two states. Alex turned out to be the serial church burglar.

“On January 31, someone had burgled the offices of three priests by breaking into the toilet through a vent, and made off with Rs 1.2 lakh worth of gold ornaments. He had clearly done a recce the previous day. Devotees were really upset and saw it as a bad omen,” said Fr A M A Prabhakaran, rector, Velankanni church. The burglar was Alex.

Alex also tried to break into churches in Kerala, including two prominent churches in Edapally and Thrissur, according to the rector.

An investigating officer said Alex took to crime in 2001 when he was a minor. “He would target churches which see high footfall and those receiving big donations from devotees. But he would always strike at the end of the weekend when the donation boxes would be filled,” the officer said.

On Monday, police returned the valuables to their rightful owners.

Alex hails from Ernakulam while Sujoy is a native of Kannur, both in Kerala. Jayaprakash is from Madurai, Tamil Nadu. The men became friends while being lodged in the central prison at Parappana Agrahara between August and November 2016. They formed a gang after their release, the officer said.

Each of them is suspected to be involved in nearly a dozen cases of theft reported in Mico Layout, Ramamurthy Nagar, Bommanahalli, and Hulimavu in Bengaluru.

A senior police officer said the court had been urged to not give bail to the suspects as they never attended court hearings despite several warrants being issued against them. Moreover, since they operated in different states, it becomes difficult to trace them, get their body warrant and produce them before court, the officer said.

– deccan herald

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