Tynemouth stolen memorial plaques replaced with plastic
A council is replacing stolen metal memorial plaques with plastic ones in an attempt to deter thieves.
Around 60 metal plaques have been stolen from benches in Tynemouth, North Tyneside, in recent weeks.
Police condemned the "callous" thieves who officers said were stealing the plaques to sell as scrap.
North Tyneside Council said the plaques would be replaced by the end of the month with "plastic alternatives."
Tynemouth Labour MP Alan Campbell also condemned the thieves and called on police to clampdown on scrapyards.
He said: "This is not just an act of vandalism, it is callous and appalling.
"The police need to be given more powers to enter and close down scrapyards where this metal ends up.
"Records also need to be kept of cash payments and who is bringing the metal in to sell."
Joyce Jewitt, from Tynemouth, has raised money for plaques in memory of her friends.
She said: "The people who do this are morons - it is like desecrating a grave."
A Northumbria Police spokesman said the thefts had caused a great deal of "emotional stress".
He urged members of the public to get in touch if they spot anyone tampering with benches.