Theft of village graveyard plaques condemned as ‘disrespect for the dead’

St Margaret's Church, West Hoathly SUS-190815-150921001
St Margaret's Church, West Hoathly SUS-190815-150921001

A Sussex police worker has condemned thieves who stole memorial plaques from a village church as showing ‘not a shred of respect.’

Clergy and parishioners were left shocked when 52 brass grave markers were stolen from St Margaret’s Church in West Hoathly this week.

Police community support officer Daryl Holter SUS-190815-151814001

Police community support officer Daryl Holter SUS-190815-151814001

Police investigating the theft - which has left the local community devastated - are now appealing for information.

Police community support officer Daryl Holter, a heritage crime officer with Sussex Police, said: “This not only involves metal theft, but the stealing of families’ personal memories of loved ones.

“It was an utterly callous act showing not a shred of respect for the dead.”

Parish priest the Rev Nicol Kinrade discovered the theft yesterday morning. She said: “It is very distressing for the relatives, and for the Church. The scrap value of the metal will be nothing in comparison to the hurt this will cause people, to know their family graves have been subject to such unthinking indignity.”

Each plaque, measuring approximately 12 inches x six inches, was torn from a stone wall and each marked a plot where cremated ashes of loved ones had been interred.

A police spokesman said: “Anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the area or who may have information about the thefts or those responsible is asked to contact police online or by phoning 101, quoting serial 470 of 14/08.

“Alternatively they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously, telephone 0800 555 111.”