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Clayton County Hindu temple robbed of sacred jewelry

It was the second robbery at a metro Atlanta Hindu temple in just days.

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — For the second time in the past few days, police are investigating a robbery at a place of worship. This time, it was in Clayton County at the Hindu Temple of Atlanta.

Leaders there say thieves came in and took ritualistic jewelry. They think it’s the same group that robbed a temple in Forsyth County Thursday night.

Sheela Lingam is the president of the Hindu Temple said it happened in the middle of the day Friday. Leaders initially thought the items were lost, then they discovered remnants from the chain.

She said she thinks a group of people visiting walked in and snatched a chain off a sacred sculpture in this temple.

“They really, really planned because we have 24-hour security,” Lingam said.

Temple security reviewed surveillance video and spotted the group – seen at several different temples on the property – around 2:00 p.m. Lingam noted that the people looked similar to a group that deputies in Forsyth County think robbed a Hindu temple there.

“The pictures look exactly similar to the Sri Maha Lakshmi Temple,” Lingam said.

Credit: WXIA

Investigators said a group walked into the Sri Maha Lakshmi Temple on Peachtree Parkway in Cumming Thursday night. While one of the men distracted the priest, police said the other suspect stole gold jewelry from statues in the prayer room. Deputies said one of the thieves made sure the priest didn't stop or follow them out of the temple.

RELATED: Thieves steal jewelry from Hindu temple

Keshava Murthy, the chief priest of Sri Maha Lakshmi Temple told 11Alive they lost $15,000 in precious items. While Lingam said she isn’t sure the value of how much was taken from the Hindu Temple of Atlanta, she said they have stepped up security measures. 

“Even though the loss is minimal, we are taking this as a wake-up call,” she said. “We are taking all kinds of precautions if anything happens.  We are going to train our priests.”

In addition to the more than 60 surveillance cameras and security guards, Lingam said the Hindu Temple of Atlanta has started checking IDs for guests. They have also implemented escorts for them.

Meanwhile, Lingam said she is appreciative of the support the temple has gotten from concerned members of the community.

“A lot of people are concerned about how we are, and then we got a lot of text messages, a lot phone calls, a lot of emails,” she said. 

11Alive reached out to the both the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and the Clayton County Police to see if the two crimes are connected. We are still working to get that information.

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