THEIVES who broke into the city's Metropolitan Cathedral in the in middle of the night smashed images and made off with collection boxes.

The burglary, which police have described it as a shocking crime in a place of worship, was discovered when the intruder alarm was activated at around 2.45am today.

An offender or offenders had forced entry through a flat roof near the front entrance facing Hope Street, then an interior door. They took a quantity of cash from collection containers which are emptied daily, causing significant damage to the containers, say police.

Detective Chief Inspector Phil Mahon said: "I am sure the people of Liverpool will be shocked to discover the catholic cathedral, such a landmark in the city and a focal point for the community, has been targeted in this way. 

"It defies belief that thieves have stolen from a place of worship, causing damage to such a well valued building that will take time and money to repair. I would appeal to anyone who has information to contact us so we can find those responsible." 

Dean of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Canon Anthony O’Brien, said: "The whole of the Cathedral community has been left deeply saddened by this needless vandalism and damage. 

"Two images in glass, specially made for the Cathedral, have been smashed beyond repair and may be impossible to replace. People from throughout the world visit the Cathedral and those here this morning have been both shocked and horrified at what has taken place."

Detectives are appealing to anyone who may have witnessed anyone acting suspiciously in the area of the cathedral overnight to contact Liverpool CID on 0151 777 4065, or Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111.