Burglar who broke into Peterborough Cathedral and used crosses to try and steal charity cash on Boxing Day jailed

A burglar who broke into Peterborough Cathedral and used crosses to try and break into charity boxes to steal cash has been jailed

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 10:23 am

Thomas Hutchinson, 43, broke into Peterborough Cathedral just after Christmas in 2019, between 6pm on 26 December and 6.30am the following day.

He smashed a stained-glass window to break into the place of worship and climbed down from the window before standing on the altar cloth.

Hutchinson used crosses from inside the church to try and prise open two charity boxes, but when this failed he used a screwdriver which he left at the scene. A cash box was also prised open with money taken from inside.

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Thomas Hutchinson
Thomas Hutchinson

A locked cupboard door was also forced open, breaking the lock. Before leaving the church the same way he’d arrived, Hutchinson moved the altar cloth out of the way and climbed up onto the wooden altar to escape.

A footwear mark was left in the dust on the surface which was lifted by forensics teams.

Hutchinson’s shoes were seized when he was arrested three days later and the footwear matched the mark recovered from the altar. Hutchinson, from the Peterborough area but currently in HMP Stocken, caused an estimated £1,705 in damage to the cathedral.

In police interview Hutchinson, who has 27 previous convictions for similar offences, denied being responsible for the burglary.

Damage caused at the Cathedral

However, he pleaded guilty to the offence at Peterborough Crown Court on Tuesday (18 May), and was sentenced on the same day, where he was handed two years and six months in prison.

Sentencing, Judge Sean Enright told Hutchinson he had caused the damage to the church for a “paltry sum of £10” and stood on an altar cloth without “any regard for the sensibilities of members and users of the cathedral”.

He added that the footwear comparison evidence provided “extremely strong support” against Hutchinson, who was a “thief and a burglar by occupation”.

DC Pete Wise, who investigated, said: “Hutchinson was linked to this crime after leaving his shoe print at the altar and carried out this burglary for a very minimal sum of money.

The trainer that helped bring him to justice

“As well as the financial cost, burglary can have a significant and long-lasting psychological impact on victims and communities. We’re working hard to tackle the issue and bring perpetrators before the courts.

“The public play a key role in helping us combat burglary. If you notice people acting suspiciously around buildings in your community, please report it.”