Vijayawada police have arrested a 63-year-old man involved in 18 temple theft cases in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Police have recovered Rs 60 lakh worth of gold and silver ornaments that were stolen from various temples.
Vijayawada police chief Kanti Rana Tata identified the accused as Angoth Ramulu Naik, 63, a resident of the Tukaram Gate area in Secunderabad.
Police said that Ramulu Naik was arrested for stealing gold and silver ornaments in a temple at Avanigadda in Krishna district in 2011. He was convicted in that case and spent some time in jail. After his release, he again resorted to stealing.
Police said Ramulu Naik use to do the recce during the day. In the night, he used to break open the temple doors and steal silver and gold ornaments.
Later, he used to bury the ornaments for some time to keep the police at bay. After some weeks, he used to dig out the ornaments and crush them with iron rods. Later he used to sell them in pieces to evade any suspicion.
Vijayawada police had recently launched an investigation into the theft case reported at Kusuma Harinadha Mandir under One Town police station limits. After examining CCTV footage, they zeroed in on Ramulu Naik.
Police nabbed the accused near the Prakasam barrage. They have recovered 80 kg silver and 225-gram gold from him.
Apart from Haranadha Mandir, Ramulu Naik was involved in another 10 cases in Guntur district, three cases each in West Godavari and Krishna district, and one case under Miryalaguda police station in Telangana.