Buddha comeback: Stolen Ayutthaya-era relic found, worth millions
Buddha comeback: Stolen Ayutthaya-era relic found, worth millionsLegacy

A significant cultural relic has been recovered following a brazen theft from Wat Pratu Sarn in Suphan Buri province.

The priceless statue, an Ayutthaya-era Buddha image, along with other valuables estimated to be worth over 10 million baht, was stolen in the early hours of yesterday and found abandoned by the roadside. Authorities are now urging the return of the remaining stolen items.

Local authorities were alerted to the presence of the artefact by the roadside in Sri Prachan district, Suphan Buri province yesterday at 7am. Following the tip-off, police inspector Chaiyaphon Poonchantuek, along with deputy superintendent Tawan Watthanarangsan and other investigative officers, promptly examined the scene and found the Ayutthaya-style Buddha image in the Pang Ham Yati pose, which dates back to the late Ayutthaya period.

Sakda, the resident who first discovered the Buddha image, described his shock at finding such an important artefact abandoned by the side of the road as he was heading out to pick up his partner from work. Meanwhile, Natthaphon Kumud, a temple committee member, expressed the community’s distress over the theft at Wat Pratu Sarn, which left them feeling deeply violated.

Further investigation revealed the extent of the stolen items, which included several small Buddha images, three Buddhist scripture cabinets, a floral garland chest, a gold-handled fan from the reign of King Rama V, about six to seven carved wooden Buddha statues, and over 14 portraits from King Rama IV and V periods. Surveillance footage showed a pickup truck entering and leaving the temple grounds on the night of the theft, suggesting a well-planned operation, reported KhaoSod.

The incident shocked the local community, who could not have imagined such a violation of their sacred space. The police are now intensively searching for the black pickup truck used in the heist while the pressure from social media campaigns by the citizens of Suphan Buri may have prompted the thieves to abandon the stolen Buddha image.

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Author: Nattapong Westwood