Burglar causes £10,000 damage to Shrewsbury church window - to steal just £40
A thief who broke into a Shrewsbury church and made off with about £40 caused £10,000 worth of damage by smashing a medieval window.
Volunteers at St Mary's Church said they were devastated to arrive on Monday morning to see part of the stained glass window had been smashed.
It is believed the thief prised away the protective grill, smashed the window, which dates back to the early 1500s, and entered the church sometime overnight on Sunday.
Robert Milton, local community officer for the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT), said: "I was so angry when I came in on Monday and saw the window had been destroyed.
"It is based on a Renaissance painting and is of some real importance nationally and internationally. Rather tragically, people don't see the windows as being important to them so think this is okay. It isn't.
"When inside, they've stolen the donation money and the float in the till. So for the sake of about £40, they have cause £10,000 of damage."
There is some dispute about the provenance of the panel, but sources say they are from either the Munsterbilzen Abbey in Limburg, Belgium, or the Trier Catherdral in Germany.
The pane that was smashed shows two of the three kings giving their gifts to Jesus. The reason the third king is missing is unknown but it is thought that this part of the glass had been lost before it was purchased for St Mary's or that there simply not enough room in the window.
Mr Milton said the CCT is now facing a repair bill of about £10,000 - on top of a growing list of repairs.
"We already have an extremely large repair bill and are trying to find suitable funding, he said.
"Conserving heritage comes at a huge cost, sadly. When we add up everything that needs doing, we're looking at half a million pounds which is a staggering amount of money."