Thieves strike gold in Ponda, target 3 sites in single night



Ponda was prowled on by thieves striking successfully at two places but beat a hasty retreat at a third site in the wee hours of Thursday.

In the first case a temple -- the Mahaganapati temple at Khandola -- was struck with the culprits decamping with a gold-plated silver ornament and cash. Preliminary enquiries revealed the value of the bounty was approximately Rs 10 lakh.

In the second incident, ATM booths of two banks -- HDFC Bank and Canara Bank -- at Usgao were vandalised and the culprits took away the entire ATM machines. How much cash was inside is yet to be ascertained by bank officials.

At the third crime scene in Kuncoliem-Mardol, however, the bad guys didn't quite manage to go through with their plan. They faced more than expected resistance from the grocery store owner who lived opposite his store and beat a hasty retreat but not before they left the victim injured in the scuffle.

AT the Mahaganapati temple in Khandola, the robbery was discovered by the Bhatji (temple priest), who found the front door broken open. He immediately informed the temple committee members who in turn informed the police and rushed to the spot.

After a thorough survey, it was found that the culprits entered the temple's Sanctum Sanctorum and took away a gold-plated silver ornament from the main idol.

A police team conducted the panchanama and also found that the DVR control system of CCTV cameras was missing, suggesting that it was the job of professionals who took an escape route from the rear of the temple.

A lot of cash from the donation box which the culprits broke open was lying strewn in the backyard of the temple.

At Usgao, the two ATM machines from the booths of the HDFC Bank and Canara Bank, were missing. The machines were later found open and dumped at an isolated place at Dharbandora, police said.

According to the Ponda SDPO, C L Patil, the total amount of cash in the two machines is yet to be ascertained.

At Kuncoliem-Mardol, the thieves were attempting to break into a grocery store but the noise woke up its owner who lived just opposite his store. When the owner, identified as Gurudas, rushed out and confronted the culprits at around 3 am, he was attacked.

Police said, Gurudas was attacked with bottles and suffered injuries. The thieves ran away and in their hurry to escape, abandoned a bike and a scooter at the site.

Investigations in all the three cases are in progress, Patil said.

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