Scrap metal thieves strike at graveyard

SCRAP metal thieves stooped to a new low after stealing more than £9,000 worth of equipment from a cemetery.

The large sheets of metal which are used to hold up grave walls while they are being dug out, were stolen from Warblington cemetery.

Thieves cut through a chain securing the cemetery before cutting through a subsequent chain and padlock and damaging the handle to gain entry into an on-site storage area in the cemetery which is next to St Thomas a Becket Church in Church Lane.

PCSO Matt Cox from the Havant Safer Neighbourhoods team said: “Someone got into the yard storage area by climbing over the gate and then cutting the bolt to open it.

“Once inside they took several large panels which are used to hold up grave walls as they are being dug out.

“Each panel has a Teleshore System sticker on it. I’m appealing for help to identify the offender or offenders, anyone with information about who may be responsible or knows what has happened to the equipment.

“Please ensure that metal items are locked away in secure areas also consider security marking your property with post codes or using ‘Smart water.’”

The theft happened sometime between 4pm on Monday, February 6, and 8am the next day.

The cemetery is owned and run by Havant Borough Council who said the stolen items were an important part of their safety equipment.

Peter Vince, Operational Services Manager said: “This criminal act has not affected the day to day running of the cemetery and no burials have been interrupted. However it has proved very costly.

“Havant Borough Council have reviewed and upgraded where necessary our security on all storage sites.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact PCSO Cox at Havant police station on 101 or the anonymous Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.