Sheffield graves targeted in thefts spate

Theft: John Oakley showing the gravestone with a missing sundial at Abbey Lane cemetery.

Theft: John Oakley showing the gravestone with a missing sundial at Abbey Lane cemetery.

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COUNCIL bosses are facing fresh calls to step up security at Sheffield’s cemeteries.

Abbey Lane Cemetery is the latest site targeted by thieves as the trend for stealing from graves grows.

Earlier this year, The Star highlighted thefts of keepsakes and ornaments from graves at City Road Cemetery.

Now it seems criminals have gone one step further by removing items forming part of the tombstones.

John Oakley, aged 56, of Woodseats, was devastated when a sundial attached to the grave of his grandparents Maude and Joseph Goodison was removed from Abbey Lane Cemetery. After inspecting tombstones nearby, he noticed similar items had gone.

He said: “When it happened it hurt. It is not the first time. My wife died 20 years ago and I put the first thing I ever bought for her - two doves which were intertwined - on the grave.

“It’s the same this time. You’ve got to wonder who would do something like that. It is not a victimless crime and it’s upsetting for the families of these people, including me.”

Sue Nadin, bereavement services manager for Sheffield Council, said: “We are very sorry to hear about any thefts in our cemeteries.

“Although you would expect people to have more respect for bereaved relatives, this is not always the case and is a sad reflection on our society.

“We do try and warn visitors not to place anything of personal value on graves, but it is entirely at their discretion whether they follow this.

“In terms of security we do what we can with the resources we have but we have to strike a balance between this and keeping a peaceful space where people are free to come and spend time with their thoughts.”