A Narasimha idol, stolen from Virudhakreeswarar temple in Virudhachalam was brought back to Tamil Nadu after fifteen years. The 1,046-year-old was brought back from National Gallery of Australia (NGA), Canberra, Australia. 

International idol smuggler Subhash Kapoor had stolen it in 2002, along with five other idols, but a case was registered only after 13 years. Kapoor is not in Puzhal prison. 

Idol wing of Economic Offence Wing (EOW)registered a case on missing of the rare stone statue for the temple authorities had not reported about the theft. The police came to know about the instance from a confession made by an accused in idol smuggling case. 

The EOW tracked the idol to Australia and informed authorities about the theft. They also submitted all required documents to NGA, who had purchased it from a Manhattan-based Art of the Past gallery of Kapoor. They had paid $2.75 lakh for the 210 kg weighing idol but agreed to send it back to India. The idol was sent to Delhi, and EOW brought it to Tamil Nadu. 

Stolen idols are usually shipped to foreign countries using forged documents. Antique smuggling has a high-profit margin after drugs and art, EOW additional DGP Prateep V Philip said. 

A lot of diplomatic processes are involved in retrieving the idols back, he said. 

The idol would be handed over to Nagaswaraswamy icon centre in Kumbakonam. 

Of the six idols stolen in 2002, the one Ardhanareeswarar was brought back in 2016, after the theft was reported in 2013. All the other four idols of Itchasakthi, Jnanasakthi, Vinayakar and Kriyasakthi is still abroad.

The idols were stolen by a team consisting of Aditya Prakash, Vallabh Prakash and Subash Kapoor of Mumbai and Lakshminarasimhan of Mahabalipuram. The accused used to take idols to the art gallery of Kapoor in New York via Hong Kong-London route.