Mid Wales

Memorial plaques stolen from Western Cemetery, Cardiff

Thieves have stolen dozens of bronze dedication plaques from memorial benches at a Cardiff cemetery.

Fifty-eight plaques bearing dedications to loved ones were taken from the Western Cemetery in Ely in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Cardiff Council managers, who are trying to contact relatives, said staff had been left shocked by the theft.

Officials said the scrap value is thought be less than £200 although the replacement cost will be around £1,500.

The theft comes in the same week youths in Prestatyn were caught on CCTV stealing a bench in memory of three year old Meg Burgess, who was crushed by a wall in 2008.

Cardiff Council have pledged to meet the financial cost of the latest thefts although the cemetery's manager said the emotional cost to relatives was greater.

"They've stolen these dedications, these last mementos of a loved one's life for scrap," said Alan Staniforth, manager of Western Cemetery.

"But they're not scrap. We will replace the plaques, but how can you repair the memories which they destroyed?"

Some of the families affected have already been contacted and offered replacements, though many haven't been able to be reached as the plaques date back to the cemetery's opening in 1935.

Laminated notices have been placed on each of the damaged benches, urging distressed relatives and friends to contact the cemetery office to arrange a free replacement.

The council said every effort was being made to contact people before they visit the graves and specialist support will also be available.

Martin Birch, operational manager of bereavement services for Cardiff Council said: "Staff are shocked and outraged by this theft and will be working closely with those families affected.

"It is impossible to comprehend the depths that some people will stoop to by stealing these precious memorials which mean so much to bereaved families."

"We would call on the local community to contact the police if they have any details about who may be responsible."

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