A SERIAL burglar, who is said to have complained to police that
collection boxes today were not as bounteous as they had once been,
targeted 560 churches for more than a decade (
News, 1 March).
Christopher John Coulthard, aged 50 and originally from
Bedworth, near Nuneaton, Warwickshire, was sentenced to four years
last week, after his latest series of break-ins, which involved 39
churches across northern England and the Midlands.
Hull Crown Court heard how Mr Coulthard marked potential targets
on an Ordnance Survey map, mostly in rural byways. Travelling by
bike, he used a drill to break into vestry safes and offertory
boxes, frequently escaping with only a few pounds.
He began his latest series of thefts in November, within days of
being released on licence from a six-year sentence, imposed in 2010
for similar offences. Police issued a nationwide alert, and by the
time he was captured in Ulrome, near Hornsea, on 24 February, he
was on the wanted list of six counties.
Sentencing Mr Coulthard, who admitted five burglaries and asked
for 34 more offences to be considered, the Recorder, Julian Smith,
said: "You told the probation officers the money does not belong to
anyone. It is there, donated, and not going to cause any direct
loss to anyone. . . There is a level of persistent determination
and organised planning which makes your offending very