Sirichaisasa Narakkit, a Thai arrested from Varanasi for the July 17 theft at Belur Math, had allegedly done several recces of the Ramakrishna Mission headquarters and asked museum workers if he could buy some of the artefacts kept there.
The Howrah detective department tracked down the man in his late 30s, accused of stealing a tooth, strands of hair and a rudraksha rosary of Sarada Devi from the Belur Math museum, through his cell phone. He was nabbed on December 5 and brought here after the cops obtained a transit remand from a court in the UP pilgrim town the next day.
He was remanded in police custody for 14 days on Sunday.
“Narakkit had visited Belur Math several times before the theft and approached workers in the museum. He had told them that he was interested in buying the items,” said an officer of the Howrah detective department. “But, every time he got the same reply that the items were not for sale.”
Footage from CCTVs installed at the museum gate show Narakkit entering and leaving the premises on July 17. But there are no photo evidence of him lifting the stolen articles. The CCTVs inside the museum were not functioning.
Based on the footage, the police started following the marks left behind by him. “CCTV footage at Dum Dum airport show his arrival on July 13. So we asked airport security to be on the keep for Narakkit. We contacted Mumbai and Chennai airports and found that he was a frequent flier between Thailand and India, even before the Belur Math case,” the officer said.
Sources said he was part of a gang of international thieves that target old temples in India. “We have information that he was involved in thefts at temples in Odisha, Bihar and UP,” the officer said.
“He used to stay at hotels near temples that he intended to target. After arriving in Calcutta on July 13, he had stayed at a Salt Lake hotel. He left his cell phone number at the hotel register, which helped us to catch him,” he added.