Two men and one woman were arrested yesterday when they were found in possession of 60 statues that had been stolen from pagodas and shrines throughout Yangon and Bago regions, according to Yangon police.
The statues included Buddha and Nat images made of various materials, including gold, jade, bronze, and wood.
The first thief was identified when police were carrying out a crackdown on thieves and pickpockets in Hlaingthaya Township. The first bust led them to other stores of stolen statues in Kamayut and Mingaladon townships.
The police will arrange the return of the statues to their respective homes.
Valuable pagoda artifacts have long been a target for thieves in Myanmar.
In April 2016, an emerald necklace worth US$5,000 was stolen from the neck of a statue in a small pagoda in Sanchaung Township. However, police did not commit to investigating the case until the following July, after local residents complained.
Last July, a New Zealand family whose ancestor participated in Britain’s conquest of Burma in 1852 visited Myanmar with a trove of artifacts the ancestor has stolen from the Shwemawdaw Pagoda in Bago.
The family donated the artifacts to the National Museum.