Police have launched a manhunt after religious idols and Diwali donations were stolen from two north London temples in early morning raids.
Manhunt as Diwali donations and religious idols stolen from north London temples in early morning raids
The Met said the early morning burglaries were being treated as linked and released a CCTV image of a hooded suspect on Saturday.
Officers also urged faith leaders to be vigilant against future incidents.
The first happened at the Shree Swaminarayan Temple in Willesden Lane, Brent, on November 9. While the priests were in bed in the above apartment, they were woken up at 2am by a crashing sound.
A male in dark clothing with a yellow rucksack was spotted moving around the temple, crouching to avoid detection.
Collection boxes of charitable donations from the Diwali celebrations were stolen, as well as religious idols from the altar.
Bhavik Kerai, from the temple, has appealed for the return of the idols, stressing their emotional and spiritual significance for worshippers.
The second burglary happened on Tuesday at the Shri Kutch Satsang Swaminarayan Temple in Westfield Lane, Harrow.
An alarm sounded just before 4am and the priests’ CCTV showed a lone male was searching through the premises.
The suspect was wearing all grey and a hooded coat, while his face was covered. Again, a number of items were taken.
Due to the timing, method of entry and proximity of the burglaries, police believe the offences could be linked.
The Met is urging other religious temples to take extra care in locking up and stowing away valuable items, especially in light of the upcoming Hindu and Sikh holy festival of Kartik Poornima on Friday.
Det Cons Pete Wallace, of Harrow Police, said: "I want to reassure our Hindu and Sikh communities, as well as all of the religious communities in Harrow and Brent, that we take offences such as this very seriously and are doing everything we can to trace the suspect. Such behaviour will not be tolerated.
"I would ask those in the community to keep a look out for religious idols that may be offered for sale - they will be distinctive items. If such an item is offered and the apparent 'seller' is unable to account for where it came from, please contact police immediately.
"In the meantime I would urge worshippers to take extra of their places of worship to avoid becoming a victim of crime."
Anyone with information on the burglaries is asked to call 101, quoting 505 of November 9 for the first incident and 2580 of November 13 for the second. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.