Thieves have been targeting Havering graves ‘for years’

16:10 03 April 2012

Brian and Rosemary Relf at their relative

Brian and Rosemary Relf at their relative's grave in South Essex Crematorium which was targeted by flower thieves

Archant

Sick thieves have been stealing flowers from graves at a Havering crematorium for years, a couple have claimed.

Rosemary Relf, from Thurloe Gardens, Romford, has been repeatedly reduced to tears after finding fresh and artificial flowers lifted from her father’s grave, at the South Essex Crematorium, in Ockendon Road, Upminster.

“It’s very distressing,” said Rosemary. “I’ve cried four or five times. I don’t understand why someone would do it.”

Rosemary’s dad Harry Smith died three years ago and she says the thefts began a year later, estimating the grave has been targeted about twenty times.

“I visit my dad about once a week,” she said, “and I’ll always leave flowers - some fresh and some artificial. The staff say they sometimes clear away the rotten flowers but we’re here so often to tend the grave that we wouldn’t let that happen, and the artificial ones don’t die.”

Rosemary and husband Brian are urging the crematorium to take action.

Bus driver Brian said: “I’ve spoken to other families and I know it’s happening to them too,

It’s disgraceful. I think if these people get caught they should be sentenced for a long time - what they’re doing is disrespectful to the community and to people’s grief.

The couple say they have reported the thefts to crematorium staff.

Cabinet Member with responsibility for cemeteries and crematoriums, Cllr Lesley Kelly, said: “Unfortunately we are well aware that someone is taking flowers, ornaments and other decorations from the crematorium. This is disgraceful behaviour and very upsetting to families and friends when tributes are taken. We are monitoring the situation closely and working with the police to catch those involved. I would urge residents to let crematorium staff know if they think they have experienced a similar theft.”

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