Coventry & Warwickshire

Coventry charity shop burglars 'used secret tunnel'

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Media captionThieves have been stealing from a charity shop in Coventry by using a tunnel, as Liz Copper reports

Burglars used a "secret" underground tunnel to enter a Coventry charity shop several times, staff have claimed.

Workers at the Re-Use Centre, in Foleshill, said they were initially "baffled" as to how the industrial unit had been accessed.

The passage - which runs beneath a neighbouring road - was discovered after police began an investigation.

A man has been charged with one count of burglary and bailed to appear before magistrates.

Landlord 'surprised'

Manager Ben Moore said the shop - previously occupied by manufacturer Courtaulds - had been targeted since it opened in December 2012.

Image copyright Warwickshire Wildlife Trust
Image caption The shop manager said a cabinet was found smashed after one break-in

But a series of six burglaries in six weeks left staff puzzled because there was no sign of forced entry.

"We had a spell of break-ins and we couldn't work out how anyone was getting in," Mr Moore said.

"The only way we could tell they'd been in was damage to the tiles in the suspended ceiling and debris on the floor."

During some of the burglaries pipes and power cables were taken from the shop, which sells used furniture and bikes, leaving it without power.

Mr Moore said the underground passages were used by Courtaulds to transport materials.

"We had no idea about the tunnels when we moved into the building," he said.

"Even the landlord was surprised when we found out."

The shop - which works to support the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust - is now seeking a short-term lease elsewhere.

A West Midlands Police spokeswoman said a 27-year-old man from Wood End had been charged with burglary and drugs possession.

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