In a daring attempt, burglars tried to steal priceless panchaloka idols of famous Sri Venkatchalapathi Temple at Mela Thiruvenkatanathapuram near here in the early hours of Sunday after breaking the locks of the main doors of the temple.

A few thousand devotees from various parts of Tirunelveli and neighbouring districts visit the temple on Saturdays as the shrine is called ‘Southern Tirupathi’. The number of visitors swells further during the ‘garuda seva’ being held in the Tamil month of ‘Purattasi’.

Two unidentified persons entered the shrine around 1.30 a.m. on Sunday after breaking the locks of the first door. They also broke open the locks of the door of the ‘sannidhi’. Then the burglars broke the surveillance cameras fitted there.

When they tried to break the locks of the main door, it activated the ‘burglar alarm’ that alerted the watchman, Sudalaimuthu (65), and the public. Even before the people could reach there, the burglars managed to escape.

Suththamalli Inspector of Police Joseph Judson examined the footage from the surveillance cameras in the temple and the video recordings of the cameras fitted in the nearby Sudalaimada Swamy Temple.

The police said the panchaloka idols, worth several lakhs of rupees, and the gold ornaments, weighing 4 kg, had been kept in the strongroom of the temple.