Burglars raided a Hindu temple in Thornton Heath robbing a sleeping priest and stealing thousands of pounds worth of jewellery and cash.

The traumatic incident happened in the early hours of July 7, when at least three men are understood to have forced their way into the temple on Thornton Road, desecrating the worship area by stealing religious jewellery, gold chains and pendants, believed to be worth thousands of pounds.

The thieves also stole cash from the donations box.

They then broke into an office, waking a visiting priest from India asleep in the bedroom next door.

The man of God, in his 40s, was injured as they snatched a gold chain with a pendant from his neck.

It is described as 0.5cm thick and approximately 50cm in length. The pendant is globe shaped with the outer covered in gold and the centre made from a dried fruit sap that has religious meaning.

The pendant has two holes on either side, at 'three o'clock' and 'six o'clock', so that it fits to the chain and is estimated to be 2.5cm wide.

After the raid, the burglars fled from the building.

Police were called at 4.20am and are carrying out forensic tests within the building and making inquiries in the area.

Anyone with information about this incident or who believes they heard or saw something suspicious in the area at this time should contact Croydon police on 020 8649 1346 or, if they wish to remain anonymous Crimestoppers on 0800 555 11.

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