The police said the thief also made off with the cash from the donation box. The temple is located adjacent to NH-24 in Dasna and is one of the prominent temples in the district.
The temple caretakers said they had closed the doors of the temple sanctum after Shivratri celebrations around 10pm on Friday and retired to their rooms inside the temple complex.
“A thief, aged around 30, can be seen in the CCTV footage breaking the donation box. He stayed inside the main temple complex for more than 30 minutes. All his activities and face have been caught on camera,” said mahant Narshimhanand Saraswati, temple’s caretaker.
“Later, the CCTV footage shows him walking up to the deity and taking off the ‘mukut’ (crown), made of silver and believed to be over 50 years old. Then, he touched the ‘mukut’ to his forehead, as if apologising for his deed, before making off with it,” the mahant said.
The CCTV cameras are installed inside the main temple complex and they recorded all the activities of the thief, the police said.
“The thief also returned with a hammer and broke open the donation box. There have been several thefts and burglary attempts at the Dasna Devi temple in the past decade,” Saraswati added.
A police team reached the temple complex after the theft was discovered by the temple authorities on Saturday morning and the police were alerted.
“We are scanning the CCTV footage and have roped in teams to trace the suspect. His face is clearly visible in the footage. The temple caretakers were inside the temple complex. It seems that the thief knew about where the keys of doors were kept. We believe he must be a frequent visitor to the temple. We are investigating the case and an FIR has been lodged into the incident,” said Ashish Srivastava, circle officer (Murad Nagar).
“From his actions, caught on camera, he first made sure that the caretakers were sleeping — they were tired after the day-long Shivratri celebrations. We have also roped in forensic teams to lift evidence from the scene of crime,” Srivastava said.