Visakhapatnam: The Vizianagaram police have arrested six members of a gang for stealing money from donation boxes of temples in Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam districts.

The arrested have been identified as M. Nagarjuna, T. Veera Babu, M. Dhanaraju, Ch. Sai, A. Chiranjeevi, and G. Eswar Rao. All are from Vizag and Vizianagaram districts.

On 23 September, the gang had stolen a donation box containing cash and some valuables from a temple at Jammu village in Vizianagaram district. They had also attempted to steal the collection box of a temple at Dasannapeta in Vizianagaram district the same day.

Following complaints from the local people, the Vizianagaram police formed a special team to nab the culprits. The police said the gang would take an auto-rickshaw and recce temples in the morning. They would break into the temples at night.

The deputy inspector general (Visakha Range), L.K.V Ranga Rao, said that during interrogation the gang members confessed to the crime. The gang was involved in robbing over 10 temples in the two districts in the past few months. All the gang members are habitual offenders and have been involved in property offenses in the region, he added.

The police said it is difficult to ascertain the exact worth of the stolen property as temples don’t always count the money and valuables in the donation box daily. The gang members claimed that they had stolen more than Rs. 1.3 lakh from the collection boxes of the various temples, the officer said.

The police managed to recover Rs. 21,000 from the gang.

The DIG said they will initiate action against anyone who spreads rumours on social media about religious issues. He also said that they have intensified patrolling to prevent possible thefts.

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