Thieves raid Chorley Little Theatre and steal hundreds in cash, power tools and charity donations

Volunteers at a community-run theatre in Chorley have been left empty-handed after thieves raided the venue and stole their power tools.

By Matthew Calderbank
Tuesday, 4th June 2019, 11:28 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th June 2019, 12:28 pm
The two men are wanted in connection with a burglary at Chorley Little Theatre on Thursday, May 23.
The two men are wanted in connection with a burglary at Chorley Little Theatre on Thursday, May 23.

Chorley Little Theatre was looted in the early hours of Thursday, May 23 when two men broke into the venue in Dole Lane.

The men snatched six power drills and a circular saw, as well as £300 cash from the bar and change from its charity collection tins.

The pair, who have been caught on CCTV, then bagged bottles of spirits from the bar before making their getaway.

The two men are wanted in connection with a burglary at Chorley Little Theatre on Thursday, May 23.

Management was alerted to the break-in after volunteers turned up to help build a set for the theatre's upcoming production, 'A Bunch of Amateurs'.

Ian Robinson, theatre director, said the burglary has left volunteers unable to work on the set, with the new production due to open in just two weeks.

"It’s very frustrating. We’re all volunteers and this has wasted a lot of time and money", said Ian.

"We have set-building on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings so when the team turned up they couldn’t get the job done.

This man was caught on CCTV during a burglary at Chorley Little Theatre on Thursday, May 23

"Apart from the money stolen, funds that were planning to be used on repairs have had to be spent fixing the mess they made and replacing the equipment they stole.

"They took loads of power tools which were being used to build the set for our next play, which opens on June 17.

"They even took drinks from the bar area and the change from our charity tins. Basically, they took as much as they were able to carry away."

Ian said dozens of volunteers who had donated their time were left empty-handed with no tools to work with.

Joseph Lancaster is wanted by Lancashire Police as part of its investigation into a burglary at Chorley Little Theatre on Thursday, May 23

"We’re all volunteers giving our free time to entertain the community, with any profits going back towards the upkeep of the building and productions.

"So when this happens it’s like a kick in the teeth to the whole community.

"It has left the production slightly behind schedule and people who had given up their time to help out were unable to do their work.

"Fortunately, they were unable to gain entry to the box office, but they did take the cash floats ready for the weekend shows.

Ian Robinson, director of Chorley Little Theatre, said the burglary is a "kick in the teeth" to all the volunteers who help run the venue.

"It can be quite dispiriting", said Ian.

"There’s been a great atmosphere around the building with recent shows doing really well.

"And the teamwork of putting a play together is so rewarding, so when something like this happens it’s annoying for everyone involved."

But Ian said the theatre and its volunteers will 'bounce back' to deliver another stand-out production later this month.

"The show will go on, and be brilliant, but it’s a distraction we could do without", added Ian.

"Time has been wasted and money that should have gone on repairs has been lost, so if anyone can help find those responsible, please contact the police."

Lancashire Police has released images of the suspects and said it wants to speak to Joseph Lancaster as part of its investigation.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: "We are currently investigating a burglary that occurred at Chorley Little Theatre on Thursday, May 23.

"Two males have broken into the building and stolen items, including a quantity of cash and a number of power tools from within.

"We would like to speak with Joseph Lancaster as part of our investigation."

If you know of Joseph Lancaster's whereabouts, or have any information that may assist police, please contact PC 3932 Exley on 101.

Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously.