Police hunt thieves who stole charity box from Coventry Cathedral

Police hunt two ‘despicable’ thieves who smashed a priceless window at historic Coventry Cathedral before stealing the charity collection box inside

  • Pair shattered a glass etching by main entrance before forcing their way inside
  • Once inside, they dragged a charity box outside where they emptied the cash
  • West Midlands Police are now appealing for anyone who recognises the men 

Police are hunting two ‘despicable’ thieves who smashed a priceless window before stealing a charity collection tin from one of Britain’s most cherished heritage sites.

The pair struck at the historic Coventry Cathedral after shattering a glass etching by the main entrance before forcing their way inside.

CCTV captures the two crooks making their way towards the Grade I-listed cathedral in Coventry city centre at around 11.10pm on January 23.

Once inside, they dragged a large charity box outside where they emptied the cash before making off in a Nissan Almera.

The pair (pictured) struck at the historic Coventry Cathedral after shattering a glass etching by the main entrance before forcing their way inside

Police say it’s not clear how much money was taken but the broken window – part of the iconic West Screen – has been described as ‘priceless and irreplaceable’.

West Midlands Police are now appealing for anyone who recognises the men caught on camera to get in touch.

PC Rob Morris, from Coventry Police, said: ‘These men have destroyed a glass artwork of national heritage and gone on to steal money destined for charity.

‘Their actions are truly despicable and have caused outrage in the community.

Police say it’s not clear how much money was taken but the broken window – part of the iconic West Screen – has been described as ‘priceless and irreplaceable’. The thieves are pictured in the getaway car, a Nissan Almera

‘I’m sure someone will suspect they know who’s responsible or have overheard someone talking about committing the crime.

‘These people don’t deserve any protection and I would ask people to contact us if they have any information.

‘They can call Crimestoppers anonymously and don’t have to leave their name or contact details. We just want to catch the offenders.’

The etched glass artwork is one of 66 produced by artist John Hutton who passed away in 1978.

West Midlands Police are now appealing for anyone who recognises the men (pictured) caught on camera to get in touch

The 66 designs make up the main entrance elevation of the Cathedral which is known as the ‘West Screen.’

The Dean of Coventry, the Very Reverend John Witcombe, setting up a fundraising appeal, said: ‘It’s only a building – but buildings matter – this is an irreplaceable piece of art that has served to inspire millions of visitors, which is now lost – or at least irrevocably damaged – forever.

‘That’s our history: we have experienced loss before, but it doesn’t make it any less heart breaking.’

A spokesperson for the cathedral said: ‘One of our beautiful and iconic angels was smashed by thieves in the early hours of Friday January 24.

The etched glass artwork is one of 66 produced by artist John Hutton who passed away in 1978. Pictured: a general view of Coventry Cathedral

‘The angel located on the West Screen – the masterpiece artwork by John Hutton – was badly damaged and cathedral staff have been working with international modern glass experts to establish whether it can be repaired or whether it will need to be replaced.

‘Whilst the Cathedral has building insurance cover, it is unlikely to pay for the full cost of a new window panel.

‘We have been overwhelmed by the sympathetic response expressed by an army of well-wishers.

‘Many have said they would like to contribute to the replacement cost and so a fundraising appeal has now been set-up.

‘At this stage the total cost of the repair or replacement is unknown, but it is expected to be at least £20,000.

The history of the cathedral can be traced back over 1,000 years. The first church was St Mary’s, a monastic building built in 1095, of which only a few ruins remain today. Pictured: a general view of Coventry Cathedral

‘People can make an online donation to the New Cathedral Glass Fund by visiting the cathedral website and following the online instructions.’

The history of the cathedral can be traced back over 1,000 years. The first church was St Mary’s, a monastic building built in 1095, of which only a few ruins remain today.

The second was St Michael’s, a 14th-century Gothic church, which was later designated a cathedral in 1918.

During the Second World War, the infamous Luftwaffe air raid on November 14 1940 – now referred to as the Coventry Blitz – flattened large areas of the city centre.

The cathedral was also badly damaged, with Nazi bombs leaving only a shell and the spire in tact.

The decision was taken the very next day to rebuild the cathedral as an expression of hope for the future of the world.

Alongside the ruins of the original cathedral, a new building was designed by Sir Basil Spence.

Queen Elizabeth II laid the foundation stone on 23 March 1956 and the building was consecrated on 25 May 1962, in her presence.

The ruins remain hallowed ground and together the two buildings are intended to create ‘one living cathedral’.

In 2018, Coventry Cathedral was listed as one of Historic England’s top 10 heritage sites.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 quoting crime reference 20CV/20527D/20 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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