Burglars broke into a cinema and stole hundreds of pounds worth of equipment.
Among the items stolen were a pair of £700 speakers belonging to a church group which meets at the venue, as well as power tools being used by workmen giving the building a six-figure facelift.
The thieves struck at The Electric Palace Picture House in Cannock in the early hours.
The burglary was discovered by Steve Graham, leader of Create Church Cannock, an arm of Rising Brook Baptist Church in Stafford, when he arrived to prepare for a service.
A congregation of up to 50 worshippers had been due to celebrate the church’s first birthday with music and prayers.
Mr Graham, aged 33, said: “I went to open up and could see straight away that something was wrong. The back door, on to the car park, had been forced open. I immediately contacted the police.”
The JBL audio equipment was taken from a store room. The intruders also got away with power tools, including drills, belonging to workmen who are carrying out a £100,000 revamp of the Walsall Road cinema. Despite the theft, which was discovered by Mr Graham at 8.15am on Sunday, the congregation continued with their planned celebration, accompanied by acoustic guitars instead of the usual band.
Mr Graham, of Pye Green, Cannock, said: “Music is a big part of what we do so to walk in and find someone had stolen something so integral to us was really disappointing. Thankfully we were able to get a bit creative and carried on regardless.”
The celebrations will continue with an open mic night tomorrow at 7.30pm at Caffe del Nino in High Green Court, Cannock. Staffordshire Police spokeswoman Faye Casey, has confirmed the force is now looking into the break in. “Staffordshire Police received a call at 8.40am on Sunday, September 15, alerting us to a break-in at The Picture House on Walsall Road, Cannock,” she said.
“Between 11pm on Saturday night and 8.30am on Sunday morning offenders have used an unknown object to force open the rear door.
“A pair of speakers and amplifiers belonging to Create Church were stolen, along with a pink sports bag containing tools.
“Scenes of crime officers attended.
“Investigation into the incident is under way.”
Picture House manager Graeme Cotton secured a 10 year lease on the popular Walsall Road venue earlier this year and is giving it a makeover.
The ladies’ and men’s toilets have been refurbished and new seats, carpets and signs will be put in after the summer. The screenings are unaffected by the changes.
The revamp with the end of an era for traditional reel film and projection in the town later this year, with an £80,000 switchover to digital systems likely after the summer. Under a five-year-plan, a third 100-seater screen could be built on the current balcony area in screen one.
Anyone with information on the break in is asked to call Staffordshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.