One suspect identified in FoCo temple theft, all suspects still on the run

Justine Lookenott

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=3YrgBz_0fF41wnc00
34-year-old Marin Marius Michescu is wanted by the FCSO in connection to the burglary of a Hindu temple(Image by the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office)

UPDATE: (Forsyth County, GA) The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office has identified one of the suspects they believe is involved in the series of Hindu temple thefts that took place last week.

34-year-old Marin Marius Michescu is wanted by the FCSO in connection to the burglary at the Shri Krishna Vrundavana Hindu temple in Forsyth County on April 17, where about $14k was stolen. Police said the suspect drove off from the scene in a gold 2004 Mercedes Benz S500 with a California license plate 8XFB676.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=1UhUw8_0fF41wnc00
The suspect drove off from the scene in a gold 2004 Mercedes Benz S500 with a California license plate 8XFB676(Image by the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office)

The press release said he is involved with at least four other suspects, one man and three women, who have not yet been identified. Two of the women appear to be in their late 20s with one wearing a long black dress and another wearing a red flowered dress during the burglary.

The suspects are also involved in similar cases that are being investigated by the Lilburn Police Department and Clayton County Police Department.

The FCSO asks that anyone with information on this case or similar cases contact Detective Tromp at 770-781-3087 or Criminal Intelligence Officer Angela Taylor at 770-781-3055.

If you have a news tip in Forsyth County, contact Justine Lookenott at justine.lookenott@newsbreak.com.

FoCo temple thieves remain at large, suspected of hitting more targets, police say

(Forsyth County, GA) The five suspects involved in the theft of $14,000 from a Hindu temple in Forsyth County appear to have also made the same attempt at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Lilburn, GA on the same day.

Captain Scott Bennett from the Lilburn Police Department said a group of people matching the description of the suspects in the Forsyth County temple theft came onto the property of the Lilburn temple around noon on Easter Sunday in what Bennett believed to be a theft attempt.

The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is the largest Hindu temple in the United States, according to Explore Georgia.

“They [the temple officials] have pretty good security and they challenged these people,” Bennett said. “They came onto the property and tried to sneak around. They actually forced entry into one of the residencies, they have a couple of residential facilities at the temple that the actual priests live in.”

Bennett said the same car reported at the Forsyth County temple, the gold Mercedes Benz with out-of-state tags, and the man wearing white were both seen at their temple location.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2le8HL_0fF41wnc00
The Gold Mercedes Benz the suspects drove off in(Image by the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office)

He said the Lilburn PD is working with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office on the cases, but would only be able to charge the suspects with something related to damage to property for damaging the door during the attempted break in.

FCSO Public Information Officer Stacie Miller said they are working with other counties on similar cases in the Atlanta area. Bennett said a third case was being investigated in Riverdale, which is in Clayton County.

The FCSO asks that anyone with information on this case or similar cases contact Detective Tromp at 770-781-3087 or Criminal Intelligence Officer Angela Taylor at 770-781-3055.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=3KaxzT_0fF41wnc00
Police are looking for the man in the white shirt(Image by the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office)

Thefts at Religious Sites

The recent thefts at Hindu temples in Forsyth County and other parts of the Atlanta area are not the first.

According to a 2019 article from the NRI Pulse, an Atlanta-based monthly newspaper that covers the South-East Asian community, two thefts happened at the Hindu Temple of Atlanta in Riverdale and the Mahalakshmi Temple in Forsyth County a day apart.

Tactics for the group involved posing as tourists and one or two of the group distracting temple officials while the rest took money and gold jewelry from around the place of worship, including taking jewelry directly off the statues of Hindu deities.

The article said the value of the stolen jewelry from the Atlanta temple was minimal, but $15,000 worth of jewelry was taken from the Forsyth County temple.

In September 2019, the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Northern District of Georgia said they had arraigned three Romanian Nationals and one co-defendant in relation to the Atlanta Temple theft on federal charges of “conspiracy to transport, in interstate commerce, stolen goods with a value of at least $5,000 and transporting, in interstate commerce, gold jewelry with a value of at least $5,000.”

The defendants were Valer Iazmin Varga, Robert-Auras Adam, Ana-Loredana Adam and co-defendant Stela Patricia Varag, who was arrested in Louisiana on a federal arrest warrant on the same charges.

The press release said the group had been involved in thefts from both Hindu and Buddhist places of worship in at least six states, including Georgia.

“These defendants posed as tourists and allegedly stole gold and money from places of worship,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “They exploited their victims’ custom of receiving visitors with open arms in their temples and religious centers, and also allegedly involved their minor children in their theft scheme.”

All four defendants plead guilty on December 19, 2019 to charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and transportation of stolen property. They were sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison and to jointly pay a restitution amount of $82,254.

If you have a news tip in Forsyth County, contact Justine Lookenott at justine.lookenott@newsbreak.com.

To learn more about this story, read "Pack of thieves stole $14k from FoCo temple on Easter Sunday, police say."

Comments / 2

Published by

I cover local news in Forsyth County, GA. My debut into the writing world began at the age of 10 when I won an essay contest in Around Acworth Magazine in which I wrote about spending the summer with my pet goat, Eclair. Since graduating from Kennesaw State University, I have been published in several newspapers and magazines in the Atlanta area including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Atlanta School Guide, What Now Atlanta, Newcomer Magazine, the Marietta Daily Journal and the Cherokee Tribune.

Forsyth County, GA
211 followers

More from Justine Lookenott

Comments / 0