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good news

From: Ramesh Sarangapani (sarangap_at_me.udel.edu)
Date: Sat Feb 08 1997 - 06:48:10 PST

>From the Hindu (Feb. 8)

The city police today arrested the elusive temple burglar and recovered
from him the entire jewellery stolen from the Sri Vedanta Desikar temple,
Mylapore, and a portion of the ornaments lifted from four other temples.
The culprit, Vardharaji Sathyamurthy (33) of Jayapuram, had been operating
for the past six years and had struck at five temples. 

His first operation was at Andal temple, Srirangam (1991) followed by
Rajagoplaswamy temple, Mannargudi (1992), Eerikatha Ramar temple,
Maduranthagam, Sarangapani temple, Kumbakonam (1995) and the recent
case. 

The lure for a lavish lifestyle had made him to take to temple burglary. 
After some training in a film institute and a short stint in the tinsel 
world, he formed a musical and drama troupe which was sponsored with the 
money got after disposing of the stolen jewellery. He even bought a few 
acres of land and also constructed a Mariamman and Perumal temple in his
village. He contested for the local Panchayat President post and lost 
narrowly. HE had filed a case in this connection. Describing the modus 
operandi, the Director General of Police Mr. K. K. Rajasekaran Nair told 
mediapersons that the small-time actor would survey the temple at least 
15 times before embarking on his mission. 

The police picked up Sathyamurthy on information that he had a lavish
lifestyle and that he was in possession of some valuable jewels. On
interrogation, he confessed to the crimes. 

The culprit who had been operating for the past five years was arrested
within 20 days of the Mylapore temple theft. He had sold some of the
diamonds in Mumbai and the jewels in different parts of the State. 

While fingerprints had been obtained in the earlier cases, in the Mylapore
case there were no ``foreign prints''. The needle of suspicion pointed to
one person as police investigation established that all the cases of temple
theft had occurred in the same pattern. Moreover, a portrait drawn of the 
suspected accused after the Kumbakonam temple burglary based on the information
given by those who had seen him, was identified by the priests in all the five
temples as the culprit. When Sathyamurthy was picked up he confessed to his
involvement in the crime, leading to the recovery of the jewellery. 

It was stated that Sathyamurthy had lost faith in Lord Shiva as his drama
troupe did not take off; he then became an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu.
He had even decorated some of the stolen jewels on the Perumal idol in his
house. He has named his two sons as Parthasarathy and Vishnuvaradan. The
City Police Commissioner, Mr. V. K. Rajagopalan, said that DCP (Adyar) 
Mr.A.M.S. Gunaseelan and Mylapore ACP (Crime) Mr. Palani were instrumental
in detecting the case.