Charity collection box at Sunderland Museum is targeted

Money in the charity box would have gone to Sunderland City Council to improve services in the area

Police tape and a police car at the scene of a crime

Thieves smashed a window and raided a North East museum to steal a charity collection box.

The criminals smashed a window to get into Sunderland Museum and Winter Garden, on Burdon Street in the city, some time between 9.30pm on Saturday and 6.30am on Sunday.

It is not known how much cash was inside the box but detectives are hunting the culprits and are appealing for anyone with information to come forward.

The money would have gone to Sunderland City Council to improve services in the area.

It comes just a week after two thieves broke into St Cuthbert’s Hospice in Durham City to steal cash donated for dying patients by smashing open a collection box. It contained around �200 donated by the relatives of patients with life-limiting illnesses who wanted to support the charity’s work.

The duo broke into the hospice on Park Road at around 8.30pm on Wednesday and were confronted by staff before fleeing with the money.

It is not yet known if the two incidents are linked. Insp Nick Hall, with Northumbria Police’s Sunderland area command, is investigating the incident.

He said those who burgled the museum are thoughtless individuals. He said: “The people who stole this charity box clearly knew the money was for charity but that didn’t stop them from committing this crime and causing a lot of damage in the process.

“I would appeal for anyone with any information to contact police.”

Coun John Kelly, Sunderland City Council’s Portfolio holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture said: “It is sad to hear that an incident like this has occurred and particularly that it was charity boxes that were targeted. All charitable donations to the museum services across the city go into the museum budget to support activities and development to benefit visitors.

“We are working closely with the police on this matter and will do out utmost to bring the individual or individuals to justice.”

Durham Police is appealing for help to find the men involved in the hospice raid. One is described as white, around 6ft tall, of thin build, between 30 and 40 and fair-haired. The other is also white, in his late 20s to early 30s, of slim build and around 5ft 7ins tall.

After the incident at the hospice, PC Sarah Douglas of Durham Police added: “To break into a hospice while terminally ill patients are lying in bed and to cause such a disturbance is appalling and shocking.”

Anyone with information about either offence should contact police on 101.

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