Theft from the dead

Rita Hooton of Friends of Dean Road cemetery is pictured at the scene. Picture by Dave Kettlewell. 112887
Rita Hooton of Friends of Dean Road cemetery is pictured at the scene. Picture by Dave Kettlewell. 112887

THIEVES are targeting a Scarborough cemetery.

THIEVES are targeting a Scarborough cemetery. Flowers and other items left on graves, as well as shrubs which were recently planted by schoolchildren after painstaking fundraising work, have been disappearing from Dean Road and Manor Road cemeteries.

Manor Road cemetery has been hit by thieves who have stolen hundreds of pounds of lottery funded flowers and shrubs. Graves have also been targeted and a number have had flowers stolen from them. Rita Hooton of Friends of Dean Road cemetery is pictured at the scene. Picture Dave Kettlewell. 112887'15/07/11

Manor Road cemetery has been hit by thieves who have stolen hundreds of pounds of lottery funded flowers and shrubs. Graves have also been targeted and a number have had flowers stolen from them. Rita Hooton of Friends of Dean Road cemetery is pictured at the scene. Picture Dave Kettlewell. 112887'15/07/11

Jan Cleary, chairman of the Friends of Dean Road and Manor Road cemeteries group, condemned the actions of the thieves as “despicable”.

She said: “We raised the funds to plant a 100-metre long bed, and children from Gladstone Road Junior School planted the seeds in April.

“We also bought shrubs and plants with the support of the sea cadets.

“Since the middle of May, the plants have been going missing in twos and threes. About 30 have been taken.

“It’s really upsetting because it’s a project which involved local children.”

The thieves have stolen shrubs, ferns and ornamental grasses.

Last month, Ms Cleary witnessed a man leaping over a 10ft wall at the cemetery and driving off in a white transit van. When she inspected the flower bed, a further three shrubs were missing.

Ms Cleary said: “To steal anything is bad enough but to steal from a cemetery and a community project is worse.”

She said items which have been placed on graves by friends and family members of the deceased have been going missing. “We want to ask members of the public to be on the lookout,” she added.

Cllr Eric Broadbent raised the issue at a Community and Police meeting for the Northstead, North Bay and Central Wards last week.

He was assured by Sgt Kevin Dunn that police were aware of the thefts and would keep a closer look-out.

“At this time of year in particular, relatives like to take flowers to graves,” Cllr Broadbent said.

“Over the last three to four weeks they have been disappearing along with shrubs and small trees. It’s one of the most disgraceful things you can imagine.”