CCTV released as police say raids on temples in Willesden and Harrow are linked
PUBLISHED: 10:37 19 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:11 19 November 2018
Police believe two raids at temples in Willesden and Harrow are linked and want to speak to this man in connection with them.
Detectives are also warning other temples and worshippers to be extra careful and lock away valuable items.
As revealed by The Times last week, the Shree Swaminarayan Temple in Willesden Lane was raided in the early hours of Friday November 9, hours after Hindu new year celebrations.
The priests had locked up at 10.30pm and gone to bed in their flat above the temple. They were woken at about 2am by a crashing sound and went to investigate. A man in dark clothing wearing a yellow rucksack was seen moving around the building and crouching to avoid being seen.
Police were called but the burglar had already left.
Collection boxes from the Diwali celebrations and three beloved idols of Hari Krishna were stolen. They had been in the temple since it opened in 1975 and president Kurjibhai Kerai has urged the community to pray for their safe return.
The second raid took place in the early hours of Tuesday at the Shri Kutch Satsang Swaminarayan Temple (SKSS) in Westfield Lane, Harrow.
CCTV showed a man searching the building wearing a grey hoodie and a scarf over his face. Police were called but again the raider had left when they got there. An array of items is believed to have been stolen.
On both occasions entry was forced through a glass door and because of that, the timing and the proximity of the incidents police believe the crimes could be linked.
Other temples are now being told to lock up items, especially with the upcoming Hindu and Sikh holy festival of Kartik Poornima this week.
Det Con 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 can call 101 quoting 505/9 Nov for the first incident and 2580/13NOV18 for the second. Alternatively, tweet @MetCC or contact Crimestoppers anonymously via 0800 555 111.