A burglar who stole cash from three churches in Worcestershire has been jailed for nine years.

Christopher Coulthard was sentenced after admitting burgling three churches, and stealing and going equipped to commit burglary from another.

Coulthard – described as a one-man crimewave – was brought to justice thanks to the quick thinking of two community support officers (CSOs) from Pershore who tracked him down to one of the town’s hotel.

CSOs Alex Fogwill and Andrew Russell were at Pershore police station when information was received that Coulthard, a known criminal, was in the area.

Using the shop-watch radio system they discovered he had checked into the Angel hotel and kept him there until police officers arrived to arrest him.

At Hereford Crown Court, on Friday, January 29, he admitted burgling St Bartholomew’s Church, Arley Kings, Stourport; St James’ Church, Birlingham, Pershore, and St Leonard’s Church, Bretforton, Evesham as well as stealing from St James’s Church, Badsey, and going equipped to commit burglary between June 11 and September 29 – the day he was arrested.

Coulthard, who is from Peterlee, County Durham, lived in bed-and-breakfast and hotel accommodation around the country while committing the church cash burglaries. When previously prosecuted for similar crimes, he had asked for 500 similar offences to be taken into consideration.

Detective Inspector Jim Fox, who headed the investigation, said: “Coulthard has caused great distress to worshippers at the local churches he targeted who felt violated that someone had forcibly taken what amounts to service collections meant for charities and other altruistic work.

“They will all be relieved to hear that this extremely callous and un-caring one-man crimewave is now behind bars and will remain there for a long time to come.”