Graveyard flower thieves “desperate” and “sickening”

09:22 19 September 2012

Teresa Wright (left) at her nan and grandad

Teresa Wright (left) at her nan and grandad's gravestone with her mother Jean Comley

Archant

A flower thief who has been targeting the grave of a family’s relatives has been dubbed as desperate and “sickening”.

Teresa Wright, 52, has been placing flowers at the graves of her nan and grandad, Catherine and Cyril, for 23 years at Rippleside Cemetery in Barking.

She visits the site almost daily, where she pays her respects not only to her grandparents but also her sister, Tracy Marshall, who died from breast cancer aged 42. But the flowers are only taken from her grandparents’ grave.

“A couple of times I thought it might have been squirrels pulling them out of the vase, but then I thought it was silly and that they couldn’t have taken that many flowers,” said Mrs Wright, of Ilchester Road, Dagenham.

The first theft happened in March and since then thefts have been continuing at random intervals throughout the year. Despite leaving notes to try to deter any further thefts, the family were targeted again last week.

Mrs Wright said her uncle and aunt left flowers at the grave on Saturday, September 8, but by the time she arrived there the following Monday they were gone, along with the vase.

“How desperate can some people be just for a bunch of flowers?” she said. “It’s coming up to the anniversary of my nan’s death this week and the thought of putting flowers down only to have someone take them is sickening.”

After reporting the latest incident to cemetery staff on Wednesday of last week, Mrs Wright insists staff are very helpful but are too few in number to tackle this sort of crime.

A council spokesman said: “We have asked staff to be extra vigilant in the light of these reported incidents. Unfortunately, it is very difficult for staff to tell whether a person removing flowers is genuine or otherwise.”

The council says the problem is compounded by the size of the 31-acre site. The local safer neighbourhoods team has been notified.

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