Hundreds of kepeng coins and pratima sacred objects have been stolen from a Tabanan temple in a new theft on the same scale as those of the temple theft gang that stripped 34 temples in three regencies of religious relics between 2006 and last year.
Six Balinese men were tried and sentenced to lengthy jail terms for those thefts. An Italian national, Roberto Gamba, 50, an art dealer who arrived in Bali to live in 2006, was also arrested last year.
He is believed to have been convicted and jailed for a much shorter term, but the court was closed to media.
The latest theft was discovered last Thursday when a mangku (wise man) went to Pura Dalem Wanasari at Banjar Sandan Lebah, in Sesandan village, and found it had been broken into.
Police said they estimated the monetary value of the property stolen at Rp8 million (US$725). A total of 299 uang kepeng (old Chinese coins now regarded as sacred) and five-gram gold prerai (sacred object) were stolen and the temple was ransacked.
Local man Gusti Komang Jelantik discovered the theft at about 8.30am last Thursday. Jelantik said the temple door was open and he saw a statue of the Goddess Dirga overturned on the floor and other temple objects scattered around.
He went to report the break-in to other mangkus.
“After we checked everything, it turned out a Pratima Prerai (bell) made of gold weighing five grams was missing along with 200 regular coins and 99 bronze coins,” he said.
Jelantik had been praying at the temple the night before and left about 10pm.
Tabanan City Police chief I Nengah Patrem said investigations were under way.