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Buddha snatching gang apprehended

Abbot arrested as gang leader, Hot Buddha recovered

Nopniwat Krailerg and Saksit Meesubkwang

Chiang Mai police have been investigating the theft of many Buddha images from wats in the province. Latest in the long line of thefts were three very valuable Buddha images stolen in December last year from Wat Luang, Hot district, Chiang Mai.

The three Buddha images stolen from the temple in Hot District were recovered after police raided Wat Nong Konkhru and arrested the temple’s abbot, Saneh.

The investigating police team from the Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5 followed up on information and raided Wat Nong Konkhru, with a court search warrant covering the temple properties and assets. The raid revealed the missing Buddha images were hidden in the temple grounds with the tools and equipment used for breaking and entering the chapels housing the images.

Police officers suspected that the gang was led by Phra Khru Saneh Chinawaro, the abbot of Wat Nong Konkhru temple, and knew that there was a deal underway to sell the stolen images.

Abbot Saneh was then charged with stealing the Buddha images, and brought in for further questioning at the Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5 headquarters. The abbot confessed and was immediately dismissed from the religious orders.

Former abbot Saneh said that he and his pupils had carefully planned to steal the valuable Buddha images for a long time, and gave the names of his accomplices. Police then made more arrests, detaining gang members Surasak Dongchangpuek and Arkaradej Pongkrachang.

Following the news of finding the Buddha images, villagers from Tambon Maepong in Doi Saket, Tambon Orntai in San Kamphaeng district, Tambon Mae Hia in Muang District, and Tambon Saluang in Mae Rim district arrived at police headquarters to identify their stolen Buddha images.


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