Grave thieves have ‘no respect’ for dead

ANOTHER family has got in touch with the Observer after reports of thefts from graves.

Maggie Berney’s father, John Mortimer, is buried at St Peter and St Mary’s Church, Fishbourne.

After seeing last week’s article on Joanne Kerr, who was devastated to find urns from her mother’s grave had been stolen, she got in touch with her story.

She said, since the death of her father in May, 2005, ‘numerous’ plants had been stolen from his grave.

When, in September, 2012, a fern was stolen from a winter trough at the grave it was the ‘final straw’ for her mother who said, from then on, she would only put flowers there.

“However I wasn’t going to let these callous thieves beat me,” said Maggie. “I went to Haskins and brought another trough. This lasted the winter.”

On May 23, the anniversary of John’s death, Maggie’s daughter Vanessa put a ‘beautiful’ plant on the grave. A fortnight later Maggie took her mother to see the plant.

“To my horror it was gone, leaving the pot behind,” she said.

“At first I thought maybe the wind had knocked it over and that maybe it was on someone else’s grave. I walked all around the church but I couldn’t find it.”

Vanessa still wanted to put flowers on the grave so, on Father’s Day, she placed a pink rose in the churchyard.

Again, Maggie took her mother to see it and again the flower was gone.

“I know my dad has been gone for eight years now but my emotions were all over the place when I found we had been targeted twice in one month,” she said.

“Do these thieves not know how devastated families are when people visit their loved ones?

“It is the lowest of lows, I feel, to steal from graves. They have no respect for the dead.”

Maggie said the last theft had left her so ‘devastated’ she no longer felt able to leave plants on her father’s grave.

“I feel these callous thieves have won,” she said.

“I hate seeing my dad’s grave bare but equally I find it too distressing to see plants taken. We just leave a few flowers there instead.”

She said the police had been ‘brilliant and supportive’ but there was little they could do because her father’s grave, like Joanne’s parents’ graves, was right by the footpath.

“My message to these callous thieves is have some respect to the dead and stop leaving families devastated by stealing their plants and flowers. I only hope they enjoyed our plants and flowers.”