Man who smashed open donation box and stole money from Hastings Museum convicted

He also stole a limited-edition photo book and charity pin badges being sold to raise funds for the local hospice. Credit: ITV News Meridian

A man who smashed open a donation box at Hastings Museum and Art Gallery and stole money from inside has been convicted.

Thomas Hyde, 30, broke into the museum on Bohemia Road about 2.20am on August 14, 2022, causing more than £1,000 worth of damage. 

He smashed the outer casing of a collection box for donations, taking notes from inside.

He also stole a limited-edition photo book and charity pin badges being sold to raise funds for the local hospice.

The museum’s alarm went off and the police were called.

Officers started making enquiries and were told that staff at a nearby leisure centre had found the photo book and pin badges discarded in the vicinity.

Among the items was a small fragment of glass with blood staining on it. DNA tests found the blood belonged to Hyde, and he was arrested.

Hyde, of no fixed address, was later charged with burglary other than dwelling and was found guilty at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Saturday (September 24).

The court released Hyde on conditional bail to allow for sentencing reports to be prepared.

Inspector Aidan Cornwall, of the Hastings Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Hastings Museum and Art Gallery is a long-standing and popular attraction in the town that relies on grants and donations.

"The financial loss suffered during this burglary, including the fact the museum had to close for the day while damage was repaired, adds additional strain at a time when many establishments are already struggling.

“Hyde showed completed disregard for the impact his actions would have on the museum, the charities it supports, and the wider community.

“Thanks to quick recovery of the discarded items, we were able to forensically link him to the burglary and secure a swift conviction at court.”