Three temples robbed of donations in Pickering and Ajax

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Published October 11, 2023 at 12:42 pm

Pickering temple break-in
Photo: Durham Regional Police

Three temples have been robbed of their donations in one night.

The robberies began shortly before 1 a.m. on Oct. 8. when an unidentified man broke into a temple near Bayly St. and Krosno Blvd. Though police did not specify, the nearest temple in that area is the Aruljothy Sivan Temple, a Tamil Hindu place of worship.

Witnesses quickly called Durham Regional Police, but the man fled before officers could arrive. Investigators found security footage of the man breaking into donation boxes and taking a large sum of cash.

Roughly half an hour after the first break-in police received reports of another break-in at another temple. This one sits about seven kilometres north near Brock Rd. and Dersan St. Again police did not specify which temple was struck but the nearest to the intersection is Devi Mandir, another Hindu temple. This temple also has a deep connection with Durham Regional Police as it trains officers for Hindu cultural awareness, per the temple website.

In this break-in, witnesses reported a a man broke in through a window a tried to steal a safe full of cash donations. However, the thief was unable to get the safe out of the window and ran before police could arrive. When officers reviewed security footage, they confirmed the thief was the same as the previous burglary.

Shortly before 3 a.m. that morning, the man broke into another temple. This one is near Westney Rd. and Bayly St. in Ajax, about seven kilometres southeast from the last. Though police again did not specify which temple this was either, the nearest is the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Mandir & Cultural Centre, also a Hindu temple. The same man as the previous two break-ins stole another large sum of cash from a donation box and fled.

Police describe the burglar as standing five-foot-nine, and wearing a blue surgical mask, a black puffy jacket with a tightly zipped hood, green camoflage cargo pants, and green running shoes. He walked with an notable limp.

Anyone with information can call police at 1-888-579-1520 ext. 2535 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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