A special team of police has recovered 26 idols stolen from various temples in Thanjavur and Ariyalur districts. Three presons were arrested in this regard. The idols were valued at around Rs 10 lakh.
According to police, the four granite idols of Dakshinamurthy and other deities were stolen from a Sivan temple in Asur near Swamimalai in March.
Similarly, another group of granite idols from Veppathur Andheeswarar temple near Tiruvidaimarudur was stolen in February.
Similar cases of theft of idols from seven ancient temples were reported, and a special team led by Inspectors S Balasundaram of Swamimalai and K Murugavelu of Kumbakonam Taluk police station, was formed to investigate these cases.
The team cracked the case and arrested L Vijayendran (33) of Melakkottayur, G Bhagavathy (23) of Moopakovil and V Nagappan (23) of Solayappan street, Kumbakonam.
Based on confessions made by the trio, police have recovered 11 granite statues and 15 metal icons, which are said to be made of bronze. The value of the stolen statues has been estimated to be Rs 10 lakh.
The police also arrested K Balaji (30) of Giri Road, Thanjavur, who had bought the stolen idols from the trio.
T S Anbu, Superintendent of Police, Thanjavur, visited the Swamimalai station and inspected the recovered idols. He also held enquiry with those arrested.
Sources said that though the enquiries revealed the name of the temples from which the statues were stolen, the source of the metal icons was yet to be ascertained.
Police is also making enquiries to find out whether the arrested persons are part of a larger cartel involved in idol smuggling.